Gov. Norm Bangerter and Human Services Director Norman G. Angus have agreed on a plan that will postpone - maybe forever - grant cuts to welfare recipients.
The budget approved by the 1991 Legislature was $1.7 million short in state general funds to cover anticipated increases in the Aid to Families With Dependent Children caseload. Instead of getting a grant increase, the department was faced with grant cuts, Angus said."Our first priority is protecting (welfare) grants at the current level, he said. "We also need to be sure we have the staff we need to run the offices that provide the services."
Current welfare grants are well below the federal poverty level. Poverty for a three-person family is $880 a month. The AFDC grant is $402 - less than half the poverty level.
Office of Family Support director Cindy Haag has projected an average caseload increase of 4,400 a month by the end of the 1992 fiscal year. More than 50 case managers would be needed to handle the increase.
Since the caseload will increase over the course of the year, the plan calls for a "phase-in" of new staff, beginning with about 15 on July 1, when the fiscal year begins. Another 14 would be added in October, 13 in December and the final 10 in April. Those numbers are approximate, according to Angus.
"We think we can save about $340,000 from the $1.7 million by doing it this way," he said.
The effectiveness of the General Assistance Self-Sufficiency Program could "recoup" another $300,000. The program helps people become self-sufficient and leave the welfare rolls through employment and by helping them receive Supplemental Security Income grants if they qualify.
Transferring funds within the AFDC self-sufficiency program will provide the other $300,000. That amount will be taken from general fund money used to pull down federal matching funds and transferred to the grants. The contract providers in the self-sufficiency program will be asked to contribute the general fund match so that the program won't lose any money.
"This won't cause any major program changes," Angus said. "But I think it will allow us to protect the grants and will get us through until the Legislature meets in January."