Alabama Department of Human Resources Commissioner Nancy Buckner's office was asked Wednesday to present a plan to lawmakers that would show the effects of a proposed 25 percent budget cut.
The 25 percent mark is a worst case scenario, of sorts. Governor Bentley's office is asking DHR to be prepared for cuts more in the range of 4 percent, at this time. Lawmakers in Alabama's House and Senate are currently in the process of coming up with their own budget proposals.
So what would a 25 percent cut do to the department? According to DHR spokesman Barry Spear, for starters, the loss of about 900 jobs. Two major programs would also face the chopping block: The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program and the child support program.
Spear said cuts would mean an end to TANF which provides payments to poor individuals who need basic necessities. Spear said the average payout per month is around $189 per family. There are currently 23,000 families with about 39,000 children involved in the program.
In addition to the loss of TANF, Spear said the state of Alabama would lose some $93 million in federally matched funding as well as another $16 million in funding directed toward child welfare efforts to protect kids from abuse and neglect.
The cuts would flow over into other agencies, Spears warned, including the Department of Public Health and the Department of Senior Services.
With the elimination of the child support program, Spear said the state would see a loss of $48 million in federally matched funding. The DHR spokesman said in 2011 there were approximately 218,000 families assisted in their efforts to get child support. The program, according to Spear, was responsible for collecting $315 million from noncustodial parents last year.
Spear stressed that this was only a proposal at the moment, but the state of Alabama is looking to trim from its already tight budget anything that can be cut.
WSFA 12 News is in the process of interviewing DHR Commissioner Buckner. We'll have the latest details from that interview on WSFA 12 News at 10:00pm.
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