$20M in Cuts Proposed for County
Contra Costa County must reduce spending by $20 million in fiscal year 2006-2007 to balances its budget, and cuts are planned for some health and mental health programs, the Contra Costa Times reports.
Proposed cuts include:
- Closing three pharmacies at county clinics;
- Stopping a fare-free bus line that takes residents to specialty medical and social services centers throughout the county;
- Eliminating art and drama therapy for patients at West County Intensive Out-Patient Day Treatment; and
- Staff reductions in several departments.
County Administrator John Cullen said the county must make the cuts to preserve its credit rating. He added that cuts to some mental health services will be offset by state and federal funds. Most health and social service programs will continue, and most of the proposed staff reductions are for vacant positions, Cullen said.
Critics of the proposed cuts say service reductions will affect the elderly who have no transportation to their doctors, people with mental illnessses, people awaiting surgery, battered women and incarcerated youth (Rosen Lum, Contra Costa Times, 4/25).
Summaries of an editorial and opinion piece addressing the budget appear below.
Contra Costa Times: It is "a pleasure" that the county Board of Supervisors and Cullen "have devised a budget for 2006-2007 that closes the $43 million spending-revenue gap in a single year," a Times editorial states, adding, "But the fiscal repair comes at a price, chiefly to health services." According to the Times, "It is unfortunate that the county must reduce important services," but "harsher cutbacks in later years" would be "even worse" (Contra Costa Times, 4/23).
- Rep. George Miller, Contra Costa Times: Contra Costa County "should not cut corners on the quality of" mental health services provided for children "as a means to balancing the budget," Miller (D-Calif.) writes in a Times opinion piece. Miller concludes, "The long-term economic costs are too great for all of us" and the "long-term human costs are devastating for these children" (Miller, Contra Costa Times, 4/22).