Cuts usually hurt people, not inanimate objects

Published 2:51 pm Thursday, March 31, 2011

Why are programs to help people always the first to be cut when budget writers sharpen their pencils?

Every time a legislative body decides it is facing a crisis and must cut a budget, those programs that most help and nurture people — libraries, education, health, for example.

The Mississippi Legislature can’t reach a decision on the budget for state government for next year, primarily because the Senate and the governor and lieutenant governor want more draconian cuts from — you guessed it, those programs that help and nurture people — than the House, which cut libraries and health programs especially, and education a little less than what the Senate wants.

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Yes, we are facing tough economic times and budgets do have to be brought in line with income. However, the legislature needs to look at other parts of the budget for those cuts.

As an example of what the cuts proposed by the both houses just for the State Library Commission would do, Pearl River County’s libraries, both Crosby Memorial in Picayune and Poplarville Public Library, which already have been drastically cut by the board of supervisors, stand to lose more people, not buy as many books, and be open fewer hours.

More than 90 percent of the money budgeted for the State Library Commission goes out to local libraries in the form of grants. For example, one of those grants to the Pearl River County library system is a grant of more than $83,000 for personnel.

Simply calling it a personnel grant may make it seem less human, but “personnel” are those folks that help patrons in so many different ways at the library, from operating one of the library’s computers for everything from a job search to scholarly research, to checking out books and keeping the books in their place on the shelves.

There also are several other grants from the Library Commission that come to the local library system that support other aspects of the system services to the public — that’s us.

The budget proposed by the House of Representatives is less draconian than the Senate’s, and both appear to fall within the state’s means. The House and the Senate argue over which budget proposal is better for the state, but the question they need to ask is which is better for the people, which nurtures people and in the long run will help the state improve. At this point, the House proposal is the one that best meets the needs of people and not just government and is the one that should be supported.