Education and health leaders brace for federal spending cut ramifications for the state

07/26/2013 04:59 PM

Many state legislators are outraged by the failure of Kentucky’s federal delegation to stave off sequester cuts but leaders in the fields of education and health and family services say its time to brace for the cuts to begin to take effect.

Officials from the Kentucky Department of Education and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services warned members of the interim Joint Committee on Appropriations and Revenue on Thursday about the effects of across the board federal cuts or sequestration to education and the family services programs.

Approximately, $26 million will be cut from education in fiscal year 2013 which began on July 1.

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said that the cuts will affect all areas of education including special education, intervention services to assist at-risk students, increased teacher training and 21st Century Community Learning programs which provide much needed supplemental enrichment to support students in literacy, math, science, technology, arts, nutrition and heath education.

Hiren Desai, KDE Associate Commissioner, Administration and Support, told the committee that the full effects of the cuts won’t be seen in the schools until 2014 since districts are losing some left over money to fill the gap in 2013.

“As they make staffing decisions in March for July 1 of 2014, they will start realizing that they don’t have five percent of their money,” Desai told lawmakers. “So you are going to see these staffing cuts really hit school districts in the spring.”

State Representative Reginald Meeks, D-Louisville, questioned Holliday about the response of Kentucky legislators in Washington about the potential devastating
effects of the cuts on Kentucky’s school children.

State Senator Gerald Neal, D-Louisville, expressed deep disappointment in the state’s federal delegation for not doing more to help the state.

“I am personally offended by what has happened at the national level,” Neal said. “It is clearly reckless and it clearly takes us back, not forward, and clearly it is a political ploy that is taking place at that level. It is outrageous.”

Beth Jurek, Executive director, office for Policy budget, Cabinet for Health and Family Services told committee members that cuts to her agency total about $8 million in fiscal year ’13 but balloon to somewhere between $17.6 million and $18.4 million in fiscal year 2014.

Among the programs which will be affected include include Behavioral Health and Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities which will see a cut of $1.7 million in fiscal year 2014.

Other programs include the Department of Community Based Services which oversees programs such as the Low Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Child Care Development Fund which will see cuts of $3.5 million in 2013 and $12 million in 2014. The Department of Aging and Independent Living will see a $1.2 million cut while Department of Public Health will see a cut of $1 million this year and between $1.5 million and $3 million in 2014.

The end result will be less people being able to take advantage of the services offered.

State Representative Jimmie Lee, D-Elizabethtown, says in the long run it’ll cost the state more money if these services are cut, especially help for the elderly.


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