Monday marks the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). There are events across the state, including one on the Capitol steps in Salem over the lunch hour. View more information about the ADA celebrations in Oregon.
Commemorating the ADA reminds us of something very important -- good public policy can change lives for the better. This landmark federal civil rights legislation has given millions of people in our country access and opportunity that they didn't have before. Also, banning discriminatory practices has helped break through stereotypes about people with disabilities. Today it is difficult to imagine an employer refusing to offer a qualified person a job because, for example, he or she uses a wheelchair. I know you all join me in celebrating this landmark federal legislation.
As we celebrate the ADA, there is also some good news to report for some of Oregon's seniors, people with disabilities, and those with mental illness. Yesterday the legislative emergency board used reserve funds to restore some $17 million of the recent budget reductions. For a list of what was restored please see the last two pages of the budget adjustments document from the Legislative Fiscal Office.
However, even as this is good news for some, at the same time, we are still making some
$141 million in reductions to things like employment-related day care, cash assistance for low-income families, our JOBS program, community mental health treatment, and many more programs and services.
This is the reality of our time -- we have scarce resources for the rest of this biennium. The Governor, lawmakers and DHS/OHA leadership face very difficult choices. At DHS/OHA we have worked hard during the entire recession to protect client services. We have done that by reducing administrative costs, reducing unnecessary non-program expenditures, reducing our workforce, and many other prudent strategies. And until recently, we were successful.
The one-time federal stimulus funds helped meet much of the increased caseload and the rest we were able to manage without asking for additional dollars from the Legislature. In fact, over the past year we have reduced our administrative costs by well over 12 percent. We reduced our admin budget by $65 million at the start of this biennium and by an additional $25 million since May. And, as you know, our workforce will be reduced by about 5 percent. All of this I know has been difficult and I am appreciative of your contributions that have helped to make this a reality.
In this budget crisis, these administrative reductions are important and appropriate. We all want to protect the services to our clients. At the same time, when 85 percent of our budget is spent on direct services and payments to clients and providers in Oregon communities, reductions to services and providers had to be made to meet the shortfall.
As we go forward through this crisis and brace for the new revenue forecast that will be announced next month, we will continue to carefully manage all costs and overhead. Families in Oregon are counting on us.