Human Services Press Conference
December 17, 2003

Last week I laid before the people of Kentucky the dramatic impacts that potential budget cuts would have on education in the Commonwealth.  That was 60% of our budget.  Now, we must turn our attention to human services – nearly 20% of our general fund budget - and the dire impact potential cuts will have in that arena.  It’s difficult to measure what constitutes quality of life but we know it includes good jobs, good schools, thriving communities, nurturing homes and good health.   Many Kentuckians suffer from ill health or mental health and mental retardation. Many cannot afford medical services or prescription drugs.   

Many of our children suffer from physical or sexual abuse and our families experience domestic violence that disrupts their everyday lives.  Our state funds assist the aged, the blind, the victims of rape, people suffering from mental illness and retardation, people on fixed incomes, children who are victims of child abuse, and many others.  When the economy suffers, our most vulnerable citizens bear the brunt of that suffering. 

We’re not making any judgments about who or what potentially might be cut. This is an analysis of what a potential 2.6% and 5.2% across the board cut would mean to Human Services agencies in Kentucky. 

Today we focus on the Cabinet for Health Services and the Cabinet for Families and Children where cuts would affect thousands of Kentucky’s most vulnerable – many of them, working poor.  The number of Kentuckians served by these agencies is staggering:

In fiscal ’01 our Comprehensive Care Centers served 101,380 people for mental health services. That number included 25,764 adults with severe mental illness and 10,287 children with severe emotional disabilities

During that same time period, these centers served 21,300 people with substance abuse problems

In fiscal ’01 our Rape Crisis Centers served 8,549 rape victims. 

In both fiscal ’01 and ’02, Homecare provided community services to 10,400 persons 65 and older to enable them to remain in their homes.  We have already expanded the program this year by 800 people, with more scheduled to be added to the list.

Our public health facilities immunized 46,214 kindergarten children; provided maternity services to over 54,000 women; performed over 822,000 lab tests and provided family planning counseling to more than 120,000 people.

In any given month, there are over 600,000 Kentuckians eligible for Medicaid services. 

Domestic violence centers serve nearly 24,000 people a year and over 4,000 children receive help from our child advocacy centers 

Many of the recipients of these services are our neighbors and friends, our children’s friends, people we work with every day who without our help would face hardships most of us cannot comprehend.  And sadly, many others are people we pass by on the street and simply choose to ignore.   

The Cabinet for Health Services has already absorbed $43.8 million in cuts in FY ’01 and ’02.  They have handled these through administrative cuts – not cuts in services.  The Cabinet for Families and Children has been cut 5% or approximately $21 million in general funds during the same time period.   

In addition to the loss of services, cuts in these budgets affect the economy of every county in the Commonwealth because over 90% of the funds spent by these two cabinets goes directly into communities across the Commonwealth.

And of course, there’s the on-going Medicaid crisis.  We are anticipating 12% annual growth in future costs of the Medicaid program, as it now exists.  In fiscal year 2000, Kentucky ranked number one among the southeastern region and our neighboring states in the percentage of state budget dollars spent on Medicaid.  The Medicaid Steering Committee has done an outstanding job balancing the budget through good management, but we are now estimating that our projected Medicaid deficit for fiscal ’04 - $216 million –could in reality be $450 million.   

As you can see, there are serious concerns for the delivery of human services in Kentucky.  I’ve asked Secretary Morgan from the Cabinet for Health Services and Secretary Miller from the Cabinet for Families and Children to share with you more specifically what potential budget reductions would mean to their agencies.   Secretary Morgan and representatives of local agencies served by her cabinet will provide some of the details of the impact any cuts in the budget would have on health services.  Secretary Morgan…..

(Sec. Morgan speaks)

(Gov. Patton) 

Secretary Miller will speak to the potential impacts to Kentucky’s families and children, and she has with her local administrators who will put a personal face on these potential reductions.  Secretary Miller…….

(Sec. Miller speaks)

(Gov. Patton) 

As you can see, there are consequences to these actions that cut across the entire spectrum of state services.  The people affected by these programs do not simply go away but rather, they present themselves elsewhere in the system.   

The burden is merely shifted - and the public pays for these services in one way or another, and at a greater cost in the long run.  The consequences will be seen in education and in the criminal justice system.   

Some persons who are struggling and at-risk now may join the ranks of the homeless simply because we cannot afford to continue to provide the services they so desperately need.  In many ways, Kentucky state government is in crisis.   

Many of the cuts which would have to be made to live with current revenue will actually show up as a lower quality of life four our people years and perhaps decades from now. But cuts in Human Services will show up immediately!  

There should be no misunderstanding about the effect of a 5.2 percent cut in our commitment to provide Human Services to the most vulnerable Kentuckians. It would cause serious and immediate harm to hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians.