Good news today for those who want state government to just wither up and die. Actually, two really encouraging items:
- The Mississippi Dept. of Mental Health announced how it will handle a nearly $20 million budget cut: 650 workforce cuts, program and service reductions, more outsourcing of services, admissions shutdowns, tightened eligibility requirements and longer waiting lists for services that remain.
Good luck, social workers trying to make referrals for desperately needed mental health services. Good luck, police and other law enforcement personnel who will inevitably have to deal with the mentally ill who have no place to go. Good luck, communities with larger numbers of unemployed as well as untreated mentally ill individuals to deal with. But hey, be happy everyone – government is getting smaller. Woo-hoo!
- The credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s Financial Services downgraded Mississippi’s credit rating, noting that lagging tax collections – expected to continue as a result of new tax cuts for business about to kick in – make it tougher for the state to meet its current debt obligations. Another looming problem is the long-term unfunded liability of the state employee retirement system (PERS). The agency stopped short of raising the rate Mississippi must pay to borrow new money, though that may come soon.
Again, this is more good news for government haters, who know that the public beast will not stop extending its tentacles until you effectively cut off its essential fuel supply – money. Less money = less government – which apparently in the minds of our leading public officials means greater happiness all around.
I don’t know about you, fellow Mississippi social workers, but I’m positively giddy at all the good news that keeps pouring in.