Do you remember Rylan’s Law – The Family/Child Protection & Accountability Act? Last year, state legislators sought to change how the state administers and delivers social services programs, including child welfare services, food assistance, Medicare, Medicaid, and others. The effort began with a focus primarily on the child welfare system after federal oversight identified many challenges as caseloads climbed and funding fell short.
The Social Services Regional Supervision and Collaboration Working Group has been working to put together a detailed plan on how the regionalization of DSS offices should be implemented, including maps and staffing structures. The proposal focuses on providing regional support—training, coordination– to DSS offices and maintaining the physical presence of offices in communities.
On Tuesday last week, the working group presented the first of two final reports to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee.
Although support for the proposed plan was strong, there was a common point of contention: there was no plan for how any of the changes would be paid for. Instead, the co-chair said the group would have to take a “wait and see” approach regarding whether they would consider costs as a part of the plan.
Since 2013, the state has lost billions of dollars in revenue due to tax cuts that primarily benefited high-income North Carolinians and corporations. Those tax cuts will continue next year when additional tax cuts for corporations and individuals will lose $900 million over the next fiscal year.
Prioritizing children’s well-being and families’ economic security means funding those priorities not more tax cuts.
Our state’s reckless commitment to tax cuts has very real consequences when it comes to making the critical investments we all know we need. It means that even when policy makers are able to agree on what we should be doing, we are unable to do so.
Brian Kennedy II is a Public Policy Fellow for the Budget & Tax Center, a project of the North Carolina Justice Center.