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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Social service agencies fear budget cuts

By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

As the Legislature debates the state budget, social service advocates gathered at the State Capitol yesterday to urge lawmakers to preserve the social safety net.

Struggles over balancing the budget are prompting concern that critical social services for families, such as early education, healthcare, housing and youth programs, might be cut.

Advocates expressed concern about a plan to raid several special funds that are used to help develop affordable housing, and a possible cut of $2.2 million that would pay for new drug treatment programs.

Some lawmakers have said the Legislature would need to make severe cuts in education and other social service programs if they cannot tap the Hawai'i Hurricane Relief Fund or find extra money from other sources.

"These cuts ... must not endanger the fragile system of care we have worked so long to simply maintain," said Claire Woods, executive director of the Salvation Army Family Treatment Services.

Nanci Kreidman, executive director of the Domestic Violence Clearinghouse, questioned why social services seem to be the last priority. "When you compromise on family, on safety, on options and on children, that's going to come back to haunt us," she said.

Reach Lynda Arakawa at larakawa@honoluluadvertiser.com or at 525-8070.