Wednesday, September 29, 2010

NC News: WRAL Reports NC Departments Struggling with Budget Cuts

N.C. departments struggling with budget cuts

Posted: 12:44 p.m. Monday
Updated: 7:10 p.m. Monday
Facing an estimated $3 billion shortfall for the 2011-12 budget year, North Carolina's state's budget director has asked all state department heads to plan for spending reductions of up to 15 percent.

Those suggested cuts are due Oct. 29, but department leaders say they are struggling with where to cut.

Since 2009, the Department of Health and Human Services, for example, has cut $2 billion from its budget. The juvenile justice department has cut $22 million, which is 15 percent of its original budget.

With nine juvenile detention centers and eight youth development centers across the state, it's quite likely at least one may close, says William Lassiter, with the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

"We've already had to lose after-school programming. We've already had to lose mentoring programs," Lassiter said. "This year, if we have to take additional cuts, we have to look at facility cuts."

An additional 15 percent cut would bring the department's budget allocation to the lowest level ever.

"If you cut anymore, you'll be cutting into core services that will affect public safety," Lassiter said.

Health and Human Services Secretary Lanier Cansler says facilities are safe. What's in jeopardy are the services.

"There may be some services that we say we can't do anymore," Cansler said. "There may be some services (where) we reduce the scope and do less."

Cansler wouldn't specify what could be eliminated but said everyone would likely be affected in some way. He says a 15 percent reduction for DHHS equates to roughly $600 million.

"We are searching right now on how to do it," Cansler said. "I don't know how we're going to accomplish it. We're reviewing everything."

Read more here: WRAL

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