Money will be distributed to "can't-wait" health and social service programs that weren't funded during the 1990 legislative session as soon as Democratic leadership approves the funding list.
Gov. Norm Bangerter and Republican legislative leaders on Monday OK'd the $7.3 million list, prepared by the Human Services and Health departments and a representative from the Human Services Coalition, the governor's office and the Office of Planning and Budget.The list was prepared after key legislators agreed to allow human service programs to spend up to $8 million on programs lobbied for by advocates who said they can't wait. The Utah Human Services Coalition had asked the governor to convene a special session, but Bangerter said he couldn't get support from the lawmakers for a special session. Instead, they approved the overspending. Most of the list is programs that were not funded during the latest session of the Legislature.
"This does in no way negate the needs we will come to the Legislature with in January (1991)," emphasized Human Services Director Norman G. Angus. "Almost everything (on the list) is less than requested. This is not next year's list. This is damage control."
Some of the programs may receive additional funding as early as Monday. Others will not get any money until September. Most of the programs are in the Department of Human Services budget.
The list includes:
- Money for early intervention to provide services to children under age 2 who are handicapped and to cover a shortfall in the "Baby Your Baby" prenatal care program.
- A one-time allocation of $250,000 to increase available critical needs housing for the homeless.
- $700,000 for the Utah Medical Assistance Program, which has had a flat budget for three years.
- Some additional money for home nursing and homemaker services for the elderly and into waiting lists for home-delivered meals. Both programs allow frail elderly people to live in their homes, rather than nursing homes, Angus said.
- Of the 220 mentally handicapped people who graduate from the public school system each year, funding will be available to put 80-90 of them into handicapped supported employment. And 20 severely physically handicapped Utahns who are on waiting lists will be able to hire attendant care.
- Child-care providers will receive a 4 percent cost-of-living increase and welfare recipients will receive a 4 percent grant increase, beginning Sept. 1.
- By mid-September, the department hopes to restore the 25 beds it had to eliminate at the Utah State Hospital. The reduction was necessary to meet federal accreditation standards, because lawmakers didn't allocate money to cover the shortfall.
- Permission to spend also means permission to hire 78 new staffers who will work in child welfare and foster care, Services to the Handicapped, program eligibility and elsewhere. While the average caseload through the department has increased 124 percent, staff levels have increased only about 3 percent.
- Substitute care and child-abuse treatment will both get a boost.
"The governor's been extremely supportive of the whole effort," Angus said. "He's done a marvelous job of dealing with the Legislature and getting support.
Increased funding for state social service programs will go to several programs, including:
- Handicapped children younger than 2
- `Baby Your Baby'
- Housing for the homeless
- Home-delivered meals, nursing and homemaker services for the elderly