Friday, December 23, 2011

UW System and Children’s Programs Hit Hard by Lapses (Cuts) Announced Today

This afternoon the Walker Administration announced its plans for lapsing $123 million to the General Fund. The biennial budget requires the Department of Administration (DOA) to allocate $174 million of lapses, and today’s announcement covers just the first fiscal year – meaning that there will be at least $51 million in additional lapses sometime during the next 18 months.  (Note: A lapse is essentially the same thing as a cut, except it doesn't reduce the base level of funding used as a starting point in developing the next budget.)

The biggest hit is to the UW System, which has to give back $46 million. Several programs for children and youths are also absorbing substantial blows. The lapses include almost $18.6 million from federal bonus funding for children’s health care, $8.3 million from the Department of Children and Families (DCF), and about $4.7 million from juvenile corrections (primarily Youth Aids).

Read more below and in the Journal Sentinel coverage of the story.

According to today’s letter from DOA Secretary Mike Huebsch, “specific education exemptions were granted to school aids, higher educational financial aid and technical college aids.”  In addition, there are exemptions for Medical Assistance – except for the CHIPRA bonus funding – and other direct care programs at DHS, and child welfare and certain TANF programs at DCF.

The plan also exempts “certain correctional programs and other institutions that operate 24/7.” Jim Moeser, WCCF’s deputy director, said community-based corrections programs and county juvenile justice funding are bearing a disproportionate share of the $9.4 million in cuts from the Department of Corrections budget.  He noted that juvenile corrections spending accounts for less than one-sixth of the department’s $1.1 billion per year budget, but half of the lapse is coming from the juvenile programs.

“The new cut in Youth Aids funds will have a harmful impact on the ability of counties to sustain progress they have made in developing effective community-based alternatives, which get youth back on track and have helped significantly reduced juvenile crime,” Moeser said.

The Joint Finance Committee has until January 18 to review the plan.

Jon Peacock

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