Yuba, Sutter can survive new state cuts
There will be impacts when state cuts filter down to the county level early in the new year, but officials said those cuts aren't surprises.
Many observers expected those cuts because of budget forecasts considered too optimistic, and after the last few deficit-ridden years, reductions for many county agencies are simply part of the mix.
"I'm more concerned about the future," said Suzanne Nobles, director of Yuba County's Department of Health & Human Services, which is seeing the bulk of this round of state cuts.
Early reads on the 2012-13 state budget Gov. Jerry Brown will propose this month suggest more cuts for programs like hers, she said.
In the cuts expected to come down, the major points for counties are:
• A 20 percent cut to In-Home Supportive Services, as well as reductions in money for fraud investigations under the service.
• Requiring counties to pay $125,000 for every youthful offender being kept in a state Division of Juvenile Justice facility.
• A 4 percent cut for child care programs.
• Elimination of state grants for local library services.
• Eliminating funding for grants for district attorney's offices to prosecute child abuse.
Sutter County spokesman Chuck Smith said in an email the overall impact of the cuts would be fairly small, though significant to those directly affected by programs such as In-Home Supportive Services
However, whether the cut to IHSS even happens is still unclear, as a judge granted a temporary injunction after counties filed to stop it, Nobles said. "Of course, we're always hopeful," she said. "But the administration thinks they'll prevail, so we're not sure."
The practical effect of the 20 percent cut would be 20 percent less caregiver time with people who receive the service, and a 20 percent reduction in pay for their caregivers as a result, she said.
Sutter County Supervisor Jim Whiteaker said the cuts in IHSS are manageable because the county's health and human services expected a mid-year cut and budgeted accordingly.
"I've said before, the state is a bad business partner, and they always leave themselves loopholes to get out of paying for these programs," he said.
But the cuts relative to juvenile justice could potentially affect the counties in a different way, by forcing them to use funds in law enforcement they need to work through state-mandated realignment.
Jim Arnold, Yuba County's chief probation officer, said the two underage offenders Yuba County would be responsible for would cost the county $250,000 a year.
"I guess for us, the hope lies in the fact that the governor just asked us to take on realignment, but then they come hit us over here, and you just can't do that," he said, adding he's hopeful the state will reconsider.
It was not immediately clear how many such offenders Sutter County would be responsible for.
The cuts aren't limited to counties; higher education is also on the chopping block.
For students at Yuba College, the cuts will have a direct impact: Per-unit fees will rise by $10 for 2012.
CONTACT Ben van der Meer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4786. Find him on Facebook at /ADbvandermeer or on Twitter at @ADbvandermeer