Social Services Advocates Gear Up in Opposition to House Budget
Social services advocates throughout Massachusetts are gearing up to fight against service cuts proposed in a House budget plan unveiled last week.
Even Governor Deval Patrick is upset by the committee's proposed budget cuts to certain social services. An anti-gang initiative called the Shannon Grants, which Patrick strongly supports, could lose nearly six million dollars under the house budget. Governor Patrick says that's a mistake and he plans to remain committed to programs that curb youth violence and offer alternatives to gangs.
"We'll be working with the legislature as the budget works its way to final to get that money restored."
Advocates from family planning services and homeless shelters are also upset with potential cuts to their programs - and two groups staged press conferences in Western Massachusetts to air their views. Leslie Tarr Laurie, president and CEO of Tapestry Health, says a three percent cut has been proposed for family planning services, but she's more concerned by an amendment that proposes to cut family planning funds entirely. And The low-income advocacy group Arise for Social Justice says budgets cuts could eliminate assistance for families who rent from private landlords. Amendments have been proposed to restore funding to homeless and low-income services.
Representative Steve Kulik ,Vice Chair of the House Ways and Means committee says the committee listens to social advocates, but the state budget is limited, particularly in a down economy.
"Advocacy groups play an important role, we always listen to them, we don't always end up agreeing, but our job is to try to balance the many competing demands on what is a limited pot of state money."
The House must vote on the amendments by April twenty-eighth, and will begin debate on its budget next Monday.