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FALK: STATE BUDGET HELPS COUNTY, FEDERAL BUDGET HURTS

For more information contact:

Topf Wells, 266-9069

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 3/1/2007

Issued By: County Executive
View only releases from County Executive
Dane County’s work to help children, families, and the environment would fare well under Governor Jim Doyle’s pending 2007-09 budget while the county’s law enforcement and public safety efforts would take hits under President Bush’s budget, Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk says.

“The state budget, as it stands today in the governor’s form, would deliver needed help to the county,” Falk told reporters during today’s news conference detailing potential local effects from the pending state and federal budgets. “The President’s federal budget proposal is best left as a starting draft to be rewritten.”

“Governor Doyle proposes $1 million over the next two years to extend our Early Childhood Initiative in the Allied Drive neighborhood to additional neighborhoods in Dane County,” Falk said. “A team of county and non-profit staff and I work with the parents of very young and newborn children to make sure that the children receive the health care they need and that the parents receive help in finding and holding jobs. This is an effective, family-by-family approach I am passionately committed to. With Governor Doyle and the Legislature, we’ll help more Dane County families and provide a good model to use elsewhere in Wisconsin.”

“In the face of continued population growth, rising land values, and the need to preserve our land and waters, the Governor’s expansion of the Stewardship Program is wonderful news. More state funds mean we can stretch county dollars to preserve more rivers, streams, wetlands, and woods sooner,” continued Falk.

Key provisions of the proposed budget’s effects on Dane County (see attached memorandum and charts for more detailed information are:

Human Services:
-- Modest but welcome increase for Elderly/Disabled Transportation and Foster Care ($84,000)
-- Major help in repairing federal cuts to the Child Support program ($850,000)

Public Safety:
-- Improved court funding ($721,000)
-- Additional help for victims/witnesses ($52,000)

Transportation:
-- More road maintenance ($260,000)

Natural Resources:
-- Additional assistance to farmers to stop erosion ($50,000)

Falk also noted the budget does not yet address at least two major problems: state inmates in the County jail and loss of funding for county workers who help people qualify for assistance such as food stamps. At current numbers of inmates and levels of reimbursement, the state housing its inmates in the jail costs the County more than $1 million annually. Provisions in the budgets could increase those costs by another $500,000. If the County loses staff who determine people’s qualifications for assistance such as food stamps, an increasing number of people, especially the working poor, applying for such assistance will face unacceptable delays.

Falk says Bush’s budget poses problems for Dane County -- namely, likely cuts in law enforcement, public safety, and human services programs. Those are:
-- Law enforcement (-$618,000)
-- Community Development Block Grants (-$584,000)
-- Energy assistance for low income people (-$80,000)
-- Human Services (-$291,000)

“Last year, even a Republican Congress rejected many of Bush’s cuts. This year, the cuts are worse and the Congress better. I hope Congress takes a large eraser to the President’s budget and starts over,” Falk said.

As part of her budget lobbying efforts, Falk travels to Washington, D.C. this weekend to attend the Board Meeting of the National County Executives Association (the Association pays for Falk’s travel expenses). Early next week, she will meet with members of the Wisconsin Congressional delegation.

During the month of March, Falk will meet with Dane County’s elected officials serving in the state Assembly and state Senate. And on March 21st, Falk will testify on the county’s behalf before the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance as part of their state budget deliberations. That meeting will be held in DeForest at a location to be determined.

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