The DFL’s “Forecast” for this biennium calls for a 37% increase in Health and Human Services (HHS) spending.
And the DFL is portraying any spending proposal less than a 37% increase as a “cut”.
And the media is, for the most part, carrying that meme without question.
Bob Collins at MPR does, in fact, question it, although his piece’s headline, “Despite warnings of cuts to child protection, House committee passes cuts in human services”, manages to hit the “decreasing the increase is a cut” and “the GOP is balancing the budget on the backs of womynandchyldryn and the poor” memes with admirable economy.
Jessica Webster, a staff attorney for Legal Aid, said the bill will hurt more than just children. “One of the things that’s frustrating, when we get these pieces of legislation, there’s nothing here that shows the people who receive these services,” she said. “Low-income people who are sick, who have serious injuries, poor people who have ill or injured children, battered women in battered women’s shelters, people living in homeless shelters, homeless youth, displaced homemakers, the developmentally disabled, people with low IQ, people who are mentally ill. All of these people are unable to work.”
The thing is, the GOP’s bill doesn’t “cut” anything from the previous budget.
But Republicans said they were not cutting the programs, since the programs had already been cut by lawmakers in their last-minute deal with then Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
“These folks having genuine needs, but over the last year or so, what this bill does just maintains… so what was done in the last year would be continuing,” Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer said. “You hear some of these phrases …. what we do is we make spending permanent.”
The bill continues the cuts to which Governor Pawlenty and the DFL-dominated legislature agreed in the last budget.
And it sends the message that HHS spending will not be going up by a over a third.
Health and Human Services are going to have to stretch their dollars further, just like the rest of us.