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Community Agencies Say Budget Cuts Unraveling AZ Human Services Network

April 15, 2009

Phoenix, AZ – Local community leaders across the state are calling on lawmakers and the governor to restore funding for critical human services. In a letter to Governor Brewer and all 90 lawmakers, volunteer board members from 60 non-profit agencies say recent budget cuts threaten their public-private partnerships with the state.

Dana Naimark, president of Children’s Action Alliance, says the issue is greater than loosing state money.

"State investment supports services for kids and families but thousands and thousands of dollars of private investment and volunteer time and effort are also brought to the table."

The letter says, without privately-run prevention and crisis services, the state will see huge increases in emergency room visits and homeless people because there will be no place left to turn. In addition to $1.6 billion in budget cuts already this year, state lawmakers face a $3-billion deficit next year.

So far, the Senate president and House speaker have been unwilling to consider the governor's call for a temporary tax increase to deal with the state’s budget shortfall. Naimark hopes that will change.

"The letter asks the legislature to work with Governor Brewer and to put together a broader plan that protects our fiscal stability and our future. That would be a plan that does not rely only on budget cuts to balance our budget."

The non-profit agencies report they don’t have the resources to replace the lost state money, but will still see an increasing number of people seeking their services.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ