DHS cutting programs, employees to make up $25 million budget cut

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Department of Human Services

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OKLAHOMA CITY – As revenue for the state continues to fall, state agencies are making cuts to get through the end of the fiscal year.

Currently, the state is facing a $1.3 billion budget shortfall, forcing agencies across Oklahoma to make drastic cuts.

The problem intensified when officials announced another 4 percent cut to agencies across the board.

One of the agencies that is facing big cuts is the Department of Human Services, which will have to make up $25 million before June 30, 2016.

“We have worked very hard throughout the past year to shield the people we serve as much as possible from budget cuts and revenue failures by dramatic reducing administrative costs, personnel, and contracts,” said Ed lake, DHS director. “For this second revenue failure, we have strategically targeted reductions to program budgets which will minimize the impact on our most vulnerable clients. If there is another revenue failure before the end of the year, however, the direct impact on our clients will undoubtedly be much more significant.”

DHS will move to quarterly payments to people who receive Aid to the Aged, Blind and Disabled. Currently, there are 88,190 people who receive the payments, averaging $36.73 a month.

Now, DHS will hold April, May and June payments and make those with the regular July payment, meaning the new quarterly payment will be $110.

The cash benefit program for families with children who have developmental disabilities will be gradually reduced and organizers say they won’t accept new families through the end of the fiscal year.

There are currently 1,690 low-income families raising children with disabilities who receive payments of $250 to $500 a month.

Also, DHS will reduce some Aging Services by targeting programs around the state where there is underspending.

In addition to cutting programs, DHS is also performing voluntary buy outs for employees and will not hire any new employees until the next fiscal year.

Officials say DHS’ budget was cut $43.5 million through the two revenue failures in the current fiscal year, and cut $64 million in fiscal year 2015. So far, 700 positions have been permanently cut from the agency’s payroll.

Experts say there has been a 23 percent cut to staff in all of the programs outside of Child Welfare Services.

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