Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wisconsin Council on Children and Families Memo on Child Support Enforcement Funding

April 25, 2011
To: Joint Finance Committee members
From: Ken Taylor, WCCF executive director, and Jon Peacock, WCCF research director
Subject: Child support enforcement (LFB paper #226)

We hope you will support alternative 2 in LFB paper #226, for the following reasons:

Money spent on child support enforcement has a great return on the investment:

Each additional state dollar spent for child support leverages almost $2 in federal matching funds (specifically $1.94).

According to the LFB memo (p. 4, discussion point # 2), child support agencies brought in an average of $6.82 in child support for each dollar expended in 2009.

Based on those figures, each GPR dollar invested in child support enforcement generates an average of about $20 in child support collected (i.e., $2.94 x 6.82, which assumes that the 2009 ratio of $6.82 per dollar spent is maintained).

Without the $4.25 million increase in state GPR funding proposed in Alternative #2, child support enforcement spending would decline by $12.5 million in the 2011-13 biennium.

Counties are being squeezed fiscally from all directions and won’t be able to offset the net cut under the Governor’s proposal.

Milwaukee County alone expects to have to cut 38 workers, or 28 percent of current child support staff in calendar year 2012 if the Governor’s proposal is approved.

As counties reduce their child support enforcement activities, their performance will almost certainly decline, which will reduce future federal performance-based incentive payments, causing a downward spiral in child support enforcement. (See LFB discussion point #14.)

Even without taking into account the added complication of a potential loss of federal incentive payments, a $12.5 million reduction in combined state and federal funding for child support enforcement could reduce collections by about $85 million over the next two years (if the decline in collections is proportionate to the decline in spending for enforcement activities).1

1 The yield on the $12.5 million may be less than the average return (of $6.82 per dollar) on enforcement spending, based on a principle of diminishing returns, and that would mean that the $85 million figure from our math exercise overestimates the actual impact. On the other hand, failing to take into account the likely loss of federal incentive dollars cuts in the other direction and understates the potential impact on collections.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Winnebago County Supervisor Jef Hall: Statement to Joint Finance Committee Neenah hearing

Neenah, WI – Winnebago County Supervisor Jef Hall delivered the following remarks to the Joint Finance Committee at the Neenah Budget Public Hearing:

Hello, my name is Jef Hall.  I am an elected member of the Winnebago County Board, a proud resident of the city of Oshkosh, a member of the Winnebago County Human Services Board and the Vice-Chair of the Winnebago County Aging and Disabilities Resource Center.

Today I mainly want to talk to you mainly about Family Care, and the freeze in Family Care in the new budget.  We in Winnebago County got in the Family Care business just recently, because we were guaranteed an end to waiting lists.  In Winnebago County we never really had long waiting lists.  We like to take care of people who can’t take care of themselves… because it is the right thing to do.

However, freezing enrolments in for Family Care in the new budget can only increase waiting lists.  We have a growing population of frail elderly as well as a growing population overall.  When the state dictates there can be no one new in the program, you can only increase waiting lists.  Let’s discuss who Family Care covers.  It covers poor, frail elderly and adult developmentally disabled people who do not have the financial and physical means to care for themselves.

This budget freezes enrollees to Family Care, only allowing new people to enroll due to attrition.  So, let’s define attrition.  83 members of our Family Care District left the program since it was established.  91% of them, 76 were due to death.  That’s what attrition is.

This budget sets up a system where one group of poor frail elderly and developmentally disabled people are forced to wait for another group of poor, frail elderly and developmentally disabled people to die before they can get the services they need to survive.

This is not the right thing to do.  The budget is a moral statement.  And I urge you to look inside yourselves before you make any changes to Family Care, Medicare or any program set up to help those poor frail elderly, developmentally disabled or other people who do not have the financial or physical means to care for themselves.