Mike Leavitt on Social Security
Director of the E.P.A.; former Republican UT Governor
We are writing in strong opposition to the cuts to the Title XX/Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) program as included in the fiscal 2000 appropriations bill.
Over the past few years, SSBG has taken more than its share of cuts in federal funding. As part of the 1996 welfare reform deal, Congress made a commitment to Governors that SSBG would be level funded at $2.38 billion each year. In fact, Governors reluctantly accepted a 15% cut in SSBG funds at that time in exchange for the commitment for stable funding in the future. However, repeated cuts in SSBG have been enacted regardless of that commitment. For fiscal 2000, SSBG is funded at $1.05 billion, which is over a 50% cut from its mandatory authorized level. Such a drastic reduction in funding for SSBG will result in cuts to vital human services for our most vulnerable citizens.
SSBG provides services to needy populations, including low-income children and families, the elderly, and the disabled. While SSBG does have a strong connection with welfare reform efforts in states by providing valuable resources for child care and transportation, it also provides services to many individuals who are not considered welfare recipients. For example, in many states, SSBG funding is used to provide foster care assistance, meals on wheels for the elderly, and independent living services for the disabled -- programs which are not allowable uses of welfare funds such as TANF.
In addition, as Congress finalizes this bill, we reiterate our adamant opposition to cutting funding for other vital health and human services programs which would adversely affect millions of Americans -- with the greatest impact on children and the elderly in the greatest need. The Governors are not seeking increased federal funding; we are simply requesting that you fulfill your commitments and reject cuts in programs such as SSBG that would jeopardize our strong state-federal partnership.
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