Still scarred from last year's funding cuts, York County human services professionals are carefully examining Gov. Tom Corbett's 2013-14 budget proposal and hoping for restored services.
Director of Human Services Michelle Hovis said she's optimistic Corbett's budget proposal will allow the county to help more people, though details are still being excavated from the weighty document.
"We're hopefully starting in a better position than last year," she said. "We're still dealing with waiting lists caused from last year."
The county's human services funding was cut by about 10 percent for the current fiscal year, down from $21 million to $18 million.
While those cuts left officials scrambling to reduce costs and prioritize care for those who most needed it, they were half the governor's original proposal to cut 20 percent.
Hovis said this year's proposal looks
friendlier than last year's, though a specific breakdown of funding won't be available until after the legislature approves a budget. There's a June 30 deadline for that action.
State Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, said he thinks counties are likely to see funding increases in some areas.
For example, mental health services are budgeted an extra $6.1 million to increase community placement for people living in state homes.
Several county line items get increases under the proposal, Grove said, "and it looks like a lot of money flowing down to counties has been increased."
$20 million: Corbett's proposed budget for the Department of Public Welfare includes a $20 million bump in funding for people with intellectual disabilities, aimed at reducing the waiting list for home and community-based services.
Hovis applauded that effort, which is expected to benefit about 20 people on a York County waiting list that's about 450-people deep.
"It doesn't begin to address the entire waiting list, but at this point we're glad to be able to address anybody on the waiting list," she said.
Welfare's allocations would also include a $20 million boost for people with physical disabilities, which is estimated to provide home and community-based help for nearly 1,700 people statewide. It's not clear how that money would be distributed or how many Yorkers would benefit.
Corbett's budget also targets aid at children, providing, for example, child care services for about 1,400 children statewide who are now on waiting lists.
"We have to look at our limited resources and prioritize our funding," said Public Welfare Secretary Gary D. Alexander on Tuesday. "Reducing our waiting lists is the first step, allowing us to help those who need support in their homes and in their communities."
The Welfare plan also includes:
---More than $8 million in resources to provide health care coverage to more than 9,300 additional children statewide through CHIP,
---$21 million from increased lottery funds to allow 1,550 additional elderly people statewide to receive services at home;
---$10 million for research-based prevention and intervention programs for at-risk children through a multi-agency Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Initiative, and
---$1.5 million to serve an additional 118 people with autism spectrum disorder statewide.
Commissioner's view: A vocal opponent of last year's county-level cuts, President York County Commissioner Steve Chronister said Corbett had no choice but to increase some funding.
"I think he took it on the chin last year from the public and the counties," Chronister said. "Heading towards re-election, he has no choice but to try to put it out of the minds of the county commissioners across the state, and the public."
He said the state should target each county's individual needs "instead of across-the-board numbers," and he'd like to have a chance to talk with Corbett about ideas for York.
"He's been governor for 21/2 years and hasn't once called the county commissioners to meet him at any event he came to in York County," Chronister said. "I feel like there's not an exchange of ideas. I don't even think he knows we exist."
-- Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.