Monday, February 21, 2011

i am concerned

as anyone who has a tv, computer or ears that can hear knows, the proposed texas state budget is a matter of conflict, debate, and fear. the proposed budgets are set to cut unbelievable amounts of money to public education, higher education, student loans, medicaid and medical services for the underserved, child protective services, domestic violence victims, legal aid, arts and historical get the idea. the budget proposed by the texas house of representatives suggests cutting the current budget by 31.1 billion dollars. $31.1 billion.

the cut for me that hits the closest to home is the proposed cuts to the department of family and protective services, more specifically, the prevention and early intervention division (pei). pei is the department that my agency contracts with to provide child abuse and juvenile delinquency prevention programs in 16 counties in west texas. my position along with the positions of 15 people that i supervise are fully funded with these dollars, along with several others who work partially on these programs. 1 of our programs is funded by a line item called "tfts" (texas families together and safe). the additional 4 contracts are funded by a line item called "other prevention programs". this is the comparison between the current budget and the proposed house budget (hb1) for the line items that fund our contracts and many others across the state:

TFTS - current: $4,121,878 proposed: $2,610,039
Other Prevention Programs - current: $8,955,910 proposed: $0

that is not a typo, it says $0.

this is where my concern comes in. i completely understand that we have to cut costs and that all government programs are going to suffer. i get it and am willing to take a cut. but the greater question is: how will we recover from this? how will we be able to put all of this back together again? if we cut 10's of thousands of jobs across the state, what will all of these people do? where will all of these teachers, social workers, state employees, etc. be employed and how will they provide for their families? and if we are also cutting the programs that will help these people survive until there are jobs again, aren't we just getting ourselves into a bigger mess than we started with? if we raise class sizes and cut costs to schools (many who are already struggling), aren't we doing a disservice to our future and the uneducated children that we will be producing? if we cut prevention programs, we stop preventing, but we are also cutting the interventions. how does this work? we just stop providing services to people all together? for anyone out there who thinks that this is not your concern as long as taxes aren't raised, you are a fool to think that this will not have long term, far reaching effects on every person and community in texas.

i do not have a solution. i am just one of many, advocating for the underserved children and families, shouting my complaints and unhappiness, hoping to keep funding for jobs and valuable programs at my agency, trying to make sense of this situation, pleading with legislators to listen to my argument and the stories of my clients, praying that my voice is loud enough and that someone will hear and take notice.

i am concerned. you should be too.

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