Passage of State Budget Concerns City Council, School District

City Officials Uncertain About Potential Effects Budget Cuts May Have On Some City Programs

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With the passage of the state budget 100 days overdue Friday, impacts to city of Berkeley programs may not be as drastic as anticipated, though some - especially those to social services - may still directly impact residents.

While the Berkeley City Council adopted the city's balanced budget on June 22 - reducing expenditures by about $11.9 million and increasing revenues by $4.3 million - state cuts could further cut into city programs heavily funded by the state, while also directly affecting social services that some residents depend on, such as the In-Home Support Services program.

"The state budget is a huge, huge document and how these things shake out ... takes a long time for us to know," city spokesperson Mary Kay Clunies-Ross said.

Though cuts in the adopted budget are not as extreme as those proposed in other drafts, Councilmembers Linda Maio and Darryl Moore said cuts to public health and child care programs are the highest concerns.

The city's Public Health Division - which is already scaling back its services to close a projected $3.1 million deficit this fiscal year - receives almost half of its funding from state grants and another 16 percent from the public health realignment fund, which obtains revenue from state sales tax and vehicle license fee revenues.

The state budget decreases Department of Public Health funds by $77.7 million, including a $7.6 million reduction in local assistance funding for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program.

Moore said the city will, if possible, step in to "fill those deep cuts."

"The Senate and the Assembly did the best job they could given the climate and condition in Sacramento ," he said. "We'll have to do some belt tightening and continue to freeze hiring but ... I do think we should be OK."

Another area of concern is the $300 million in cuts to the In-Home Support Services program. Under the program, the state pays home caregivers to assist the disabled with routine household activities, allowing them to maintain some degree of independence outside of a nursing home.

Cuts to the program include a 3.6 percent across-the-board reduction to assessed hours for IHSS recipients - a reduction that Dan McMullan, director of the Disabled People Outside Project, said would leave some without care.

"It doesn't seem like a lot, but for some people ... you take 3 percent off of those people (and) they're just done," said McMullan, whose caretaker lives with him and his two sons. "Any kind of decrease to IHSS is going to hurt people ... at this point we're just completely overwhelmed."


Stephanie Baer is the lead city government reporter. Contact her at [email protected]

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