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Oklahoma DHS Announces More Budget Cuts

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The state budget crisis forced the Department of Human Services to make $45 million worth of cuts on Wednesday. But DHS says without additional funding, by spring, the department will have major issues that will affect the people they serve. The state budget crisis forced the Department of Human Services to make $45 million worth of cuts on Wednesday. But DHS says without additional funding, by spring, the department will have major issues that will affect the people they serve.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

The state budget crisis forced the Department of Human Services to make $45 million worth of cuts on Wednesday.

But DHS says without additional funding, by spring, the department will have major issues that will affect the people they serve.

Majority of the DHS cuts will come from staff reductions, but still, the cuts will leave thousands of vulnerable Oklahomans at risk.

The $45 million in spending reductions announced Wednesday by DHS will not even cover half of the department's budget shortfall.

Already this year, DHS was forced to reduced its staff by 900. But Wednesday, it announced 91 more jobs are on the chopping block, a cut that continues to affect the services it provides.

“We're very concerned about this. We are very concerned about the state's ability to provide DHS the funding that it needs to make it through the fiscal year,” said Sheree Powell, Department of Human Services spokeswoman.

By next spring, if DHS does not revive additional funding, the department will have trouble making payroll and paying contractors.

“That's really severely impacting our ability to carry out our responsibilities such as monitoring daycares and responding to calls about adult abuse or neglect,” said Powell.

Approximately 66 percent of the cuts will be made internally with staff reorganization and reductions. Approximately 30 percent will come from cuts to services and benefits. The last 4 percent is reduced funding to benefit programs and contracts.

But DHS officials say there is only so much they can cut without losing federal programs like SNAP.

“When you protect a massive part of your agency, such as child welfare services and you protect services to aging and disabilities that's 2/3 of our budget. That means we have to take $100 million in cuts out of less than 1/3 of our budget,” said Powell. 

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