The Georgia Public Health Association is asking all members and concerned citizens to contact House and Senate budget conferees and urge them not to support the proposed cuts to public health. House and Senate versions of the 2009 budget have been passed and are now in conference committee. Both versions include large cuts to state and district public health budgets which would force layoffs to key public health staff such as nurses, communicable disease investigators, environmentalists, etc.
The following summary outlines the situation and GPHA’s concerns:
Two House study committees and two audits of public health have concluded that Georgia’s public health agencies are in a state of crisis and are inadequately funded to protect the health of Georgians.
In 2007, more than 100 county boards of health passed a resolution noting that county health department responsibilities have increased since 9/11 but that state funding had decreased by 15%. Because of the crisis in public health, the resolutions called for restoration of the 15% cut in state funding.
Many county and district public health offices, and the state public health office, have had to downsize through attrition and/or layoffs. More layoffs are imminent if funding is not increased.
Recognizing the public health crisis, the Governor recommended a 10% increase ($7.16 million) in state Grant-in-aid funding to county boards of health in the initial 2009 budget.
House and Senate versions of the 2009 budget have been passed and are now in conference committee. Neither version includes the $7.16 million increase. The proposed flat funding does not cover the increased cost of doing business and will result in further erosion of services at the county health department level.
Both versions include large cuts to state and district public health budgets which would force layoffs to key public health staff such as nurses, communicable disease investigators, environmentalists, etc.
Public Health cuts are proportionally higher in the current budget versions than many other state agencies.
Additional funding to help with making public health nurse salaries competitive is in the House version.
Urgent Action Needed:
House and Senate budget conferees need to hear that administrative and program cuts will be devastating to public health agencies already in crisis. The Senate version has restored some of these cuts. Keeping the $1,375,000 restored by the Senate will lessen the loss of public health services.
Restoring half or more of the Governor’s original recommendation of $7.16 million in restored funding for county health departments will begin the process of addressing the study committee and audit findings that public health is inadequately funded to perform its mission.
Retaining funding for nurse salaries will address part of the public health crisis.
Contact information for the Senate conferees:
Senator Jack Hill
Capitol Phone Number 404.656.5038
Capitol Fax Number 404.657.7094
Senator Eric Johnson
Capitol Phone Number 404.656.5109
Capitol Fax Number 404.657.9727
Contact information for the House conferees:
Representative Ben Harbin
Capitol Phone Number 404.463.2247
Representative Mark Burkhalter
Capitol Phone Number 404.656.5072
Representative Jerry Keen
Capitol Phone Number 404.656.5052
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