Cuts lead to more spending

By By Ross Solomon

By Ross Solomon

In financially trying times like these, trimming the budget is often an unavoidable step the government must take to help balance everything. Unfortunately, the recent proposals presented to the Utah Legislature unfairly target many social programs that are integral to the well-being of thousands of Utah residents.

The Drug Offender Reform Act, prevention programs, Meals on Wheels and many others are all at risk of being severely crippled or axed completely with the passage of these budget cuts. Worse yet, the loss of these programs could result in sharp increases in incarceration rates, resulting in more money being spent than before. Our state government must find better and more practical ways to save money, and not at the cost of so many people who are already suffering so much.

According to the Utah Support Advocates for Recovery Awareness, alcohol and drugs have a strong link in many crimes, including 49 percent of murders, 80 percent of child abuse cases, 62 percent of assaults and 50 percent of traffic fatalities. The proposed $4.7 million cut from DORA would effectively end active treatment for more than 1,400 people. Without a program like this, many of those people will not get the help they need.

Along with DORA, many after-school prevention programs are expected to be dramatically reduced or removed entirely. Cornerstone Counseling, a program that provides counseling and therapy for families who are impacted by drug addictions or domestic violence, will unlikely be able to help the more than 40 percent of those who participated last year.

With the loss or downsizing of programs such as these, many teenagers would lose necessary education about pregnancy and drug abuse. This would inevitably lead to an increase in other agencies having to deal with these problems after they occur, instead of spending money on educating teenagers.

If these proposed budget cuts go into effect, more money would undoubtedly be allotted to increase incarceration rates. Drug abuse, alcoholism and teen pregnancy rates could increase significantly.

The negative effects are countless and they are unacceptable. These budget cuts must be better balanced, instead of laying a huge weight on social services. If this does not happen, the results will be ugly. It is likely that more government funding will be spent in the long run and the social consequences will affect all of us.

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Ross Solomon