Welfare Watch - December 01, 2009 - Georgia's Revenues are Still Down

Much depends on the tax revenues received by the State.  The Governor each year makes an estimate regarding the amount of revenue (read tax dollars) that he anticipates that the State will bring in.  Since the State can not have a budget deficit, his estimate is critical for balancing the State's budget.  The most recent numbers released last month indicate that Georgia is in trouble.  Since the fiscal year began in July, revenues to Georgia are down by 15.1 percent. 

In real dollars, it means that Georgia is short $1.26 billion for this fiscal year.  As Georgia looks to the future, the prospects are not any brighter.  To further complicate an already dire situation, Georgia is spending revenue that will not recur in future revenues, such as TANF and stimulus monies. 

The Governor has a contingency plan.  He has already directed a five percent cut in July and the contingency plan calls for another 3% cut. 

All departments of the State are anticipating another cut.  DHS has already asked counties to cut back on services to families that keep children out of care.  Many families, when provided proper supports, can take care of their children safely.  Since most reports to DFCS concerning children are the result of neglect, family supports provides the additional eyes and ears and more importantly the hands that keep children safe while they stay in their own homes.  Some counties are reporting a more than 50% cut in family support services. 

These cuts are disturbing, because Georgia has seen a steady improvement in keeping children safe at home, reductions in foster care and shortened lengths of stay while in foster care.  Many fear that these cuts will stop the progress that Georgia has made in these areas and in the end will not save the State any money.  More importantly, children could possibly be at risk of harm. 

The Governor and the Legislature will have some difficult decisions to make in the coming session.  More than one Legislator has said that this is not going to be a pretty session.  More cuts can not be the answer, if Georgia intends to have a safe, educated, healthy and prosperous future.  Georgia's budget can not be balanced with more cuts.  Other states have taken a more balanced approach that include other revenue enhancement options. 

Sometimes spending less, cost more.  This is one of those times. 

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Welfare Watch, an email newsletter of the
Georgia Association of Homes
and Services for Children
as a public service.
http://www.gahsc.org
                           
Normer Adams, Editor

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