The 2018 Legislative Session is a Budget Session, with many difficult decisions facing our State Legislators on how to form a balanced budget when State revenues have decreased significantly over the last few years. The Department of Family Services and the Department of Health have seen major cuts (about 30%) in their budgets in the last two years. However, this year in response to a proposed State budget reduction in daily rate paid to residential treatment centers and group homes Governor Mead wrote, “ I recommend denial of the reduction to the standard budget. This reduction impedes a provider’s ability to provide adequate services for court-ordered youth who cannot be served by their local communities.” I greatly appreciate the Governor acknowledging that programs such as Red Top Meadows and the Van Vleck Group Home cannot sustain further cuts in payments received from the State.
He specifically addressed the daily rate paid by the State for service and the Joint Appropriations committee, thanks to in large part to Representative Schwartz, has said via their budget that numbers of youth served should not continue to be reduced. The statements made by the Governor and the Appropriations Committee were greatly appreciated and speak to the importance of helping troubled young people find a new and better direction while they are still young.
It makes me anxious to watch and listen to the process of discussing how much service we should provide for troubled youth and then read the paper regarding the tragic shootings in Florida this past week. I do not know a great deal about the shooters history but I know he needed much more supervision and treatment than he received. Because of economics there is a consistent push to make treatment shorter and faster, and I understand there are limits to funding, but we need to be careful to not create tragedies in order to address short falls in budget incomes.
Thank you to Governor Mead, Representative Schwartz and the Joint Appropriations committee for understanding the importance of our work. We hope the whole of the Wyoming Legislature does too.