Page 20


The Written Word . . . isn’t much good if you can’t read it. Our production department is packed with experience in getting your ideas on paper. From design to full service computer typesetting, we can put the power of the pen to work for you. Call us at 442-7836. En loyee Owned and Managed COMMUNICATIONS, INC. AUSTIN, TEXAS 1714 S. Congress 442-7836 Data Processing Typesetting Printing Mailing programs which human services is engaged in, but in too small a number. “If we don’t want so many families relying on state aid tomorrow, then we must invest in family planning programs today in order to stop the avalanche of unwanted pregnancies. “If we don’t want so many people on welfare tomorrow, then we must invest in creative job-skill training programs today, because the little we have already done has shown extraordinary results. “And, if we don’t want to deal with increased medical costs for the children, the elderly, and the disabled living in poverty, then we must invest today in proper pre-natal and post-natal care and proper nutrition programs.” Human Services commissioner Marlin Johnston has pointed out repeatedly that difficult economic times put more, not less, of a strain on his department’s budget. There was a time last month when it appeared that even such hard-nosed budget cutters as Rep. Mike Toomey \(who serves as services budget would have to be increased just for the agency to maintain the same level of services. In two intensive budget discussions with Johnston. Toomey seemed willing to recommend an increased budget for the Department of Human Services, according to an agency source. But in the budget Clements proposed, DHS was funded at only slightly more than the current level, and far less than both the agency and the Legislative Budget Board recommended. Human Services activists picked up on a story that Clements had directed Toomey not to give DHS any more money than seemed absolutely necessary because he was angry with Livingston Kosberg’s decision not to “prioritize” the agency’s spending. This is difficult to verify, but suffice it to say that the increases that seemed probable in January were not recommended in February. As for Clements’s budget recommendations, Kosberg now says, “The impact could well be catastrophic to Human Services.” He points out that if more people are eligible for social programs but more money is not available, the resources will have to be spread thinner. These would be actual cuts in services. For example, Clements recommends a small increase in funding for child welfare, based on the assumption the demand will increase five percent. But the agency foresees a 12 percent increase in demand. If they are to stay within Clements’s budget, this might bring the average monthly AFDC grant down from $57 to $48. \(At $57, Texas ranks an increase to $64 in 1988 and $68 in 1989. There are other problems. “He [Clements] was wiping $24 million out of data processing [at DHS],” Kosberg said. “That’s the entire budget. We couldn’t get medicaid checks out.” As well, Clements’s budget does not replace some $300 million in federal funds which were used on a one-time basis in the 1987 budget. “It looks like based on all the assumptions we’ve been able to make, it would be about a 25 percent cut,” a DHS budget officer told the Houston Chronicle February 8. In a simplistic sense, the governor is able to say he is not cutting state spending. Clements calls for $766 million more to be spent overall in the next two years than in the current biennium. The largest amount of that is for court-ordered prison improvements. But when inflation \(which is nine percent for state services are taken into account, it’s obvious that his status quo budget would mean cutbacks for the people, not just in welfare programs, but even more so in education. We are able to report, however, that the highway budget will be increased nine percent under the governor’s plan. Seems like old times. D.D. FEBRUARY 20, 1 DIALOGUE Indebted to Geoff Rips The cause of Texas liberalism is deeply indebted to Geoff Rips, who now leaves the Observer. His performance as editor the past few years was superb. A fine writer, a hard-working reporter, a fair-minded editor who encouraged dissent while calling the shots as he saw them. Geoff will be remembered as one of the Observer’s best editors. Your readers may not fully appreciate what a financial sacrifice is incurred by your staff, who get paid peanuts for an intellectually and emotionally demanding job week in and week out. There are some intangible rewards, of course, but to the editor who wakes up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night worrying about a libel suit or an impending deadline, those rewards must appear intangible indeed. Good luck to Dave Denison, and thanks to Geoff. Chandler Davidson Houston