The information in this post is courtesy of the County Commissioners Association of Ohio.
As Governor Ted Strickland deals with projected budget shortfalls of between $733 million and $1.9 billion, reductions in department spending and possibly layoffs are being planned.
As counties are the local arm of state government, cuts in state department budgets usually impact county department budgets. Here is a recap of some of the planned cuts and how they may impact us in Lucas County.
Department of Job and Family Services
This department is looking at cuts of $67.5 million in FY08 and FY09. The department is hoping to absorb most of the cuts internally through attrition, early retirement incentives and potentially reducing 300-600 positions.
County departments are being asked to see what can be done internally as well. ODJFS does not want to mandate across the board cuts, but wants to see what county JFS departments can come up with first.
They plan to institute a 10% reduction in the child support state match. However, they will continue to move forward with expanding coverage for adult dental and increased rates for community healthcare providers. Planned increases in in-patient hospital reimbursement rates as well as recalibration rates for hospitals will be delayed.
Department of Aging
They have funding to continue core activities without service interruption, including new PASSPORT enrollment as well as funding for those on the waiting list for Assisted Living. Plans are for the governor to seek legislative approval to eliminate the 3% Medicaid reimbursement rate increase in FY09 for PASSPORT and Choices providers that was previously approved as part of the budget bill.
Department of Mental Health
Closing two psychiatric hospitals has already been reported, with some patients being shifted to units here in Toledo. This department plans to reduce staff and equipment and contract spending by 20% each.
Department of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities
In addition to internal cuts, they plan to move 150-170 people from developmental centers to Martin waivers, allowing for closure of some cottages in development centers.
One thing I must do is compliment the governor on the budget projection process. He and his staff looked at three scenarios: the economic picture staying the same - getting a bit worse - and getting bad. He's basing these cuts upon those projections. This is a useful and pragmatic approach that counties and cities should take as well. It would certainly put into perspective the serious implications such economic downturns have upon public budgets and would force people to prioritize necessities over niceties when it comes to public spending.