Instead of Cutting Meals on Wheels…
…by 20%, what if the General Assembly made a couple cuts from their own budget.
The budget for the Legislature includes funding for Legal Counsel. Last year there was funding for 15.4 positions at a total of $863,875 ($56,095/lawyer). This year they jacked it up to 16.6 positions for a total of $971,249 ($58,509/lawyer). Let’s just level fund that (no extra lawyers and no raises) and save $107,374. Or give them their raises and “save” $70,210.
Here’s another: there were 21 Legislative Aides funded in FY07 at $751,961 ($35,808/aide). Now the Legislature wants 2 more for a total cost of $853,792 ($37,121/aide). I won’t even suggest level funding, just keep the 21 at the new price and “save” $74,242.
They also hired a new Auditor at….well, on second thought.
Anyway, put the savings from not creating these new state jobs together and that’s more than enough to pay for Meals-on-Wheels. And no state workers will even lose their jobs!
Finally, these are just the instances where they’ve added positions. Overall, payroll costs for the Legislature have gone up 7.7% (the salary only portion has gone up 4%). Let’s say we cut those back too. It’s a start.
Now, this assumes you think Meals-on-Wheels is a program worthy of receiving $1 million/year from the State. According to Sandy Centazzo, president & CEO of Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island (interviewed by Dan Yorke this afternoon), the program cost about $3 million to run last year (a reduction from past years) and is staffed by some 1,200 volunteers.
The fact is, in these trying times, we need to decide what our state spending priorities are. In many instances, it will call for non-profit organizations to do what they do–fund raise–without the level of government help that they are used to.