The state’s top financial oversight board will meet Tuesday morning to discuss two agencies that are requesting permission to run a deficit. However, one agency that will not be on the list is the Department of Social Services, which says it was able to trim its deficit to zero after a series of cuts.
Governor Nikki Haley praised the agency in a Monday press conference.
It’s something I’m very proud to see that everybody at DSS pulled together, realized that this is a time that we live within our means, that deficits are not something that we want to have a habit of in South Carolina. It’s a move in the right direction.
DSS had sought permission in December to run a $29 million deficit. However, Haley said some of the predicted numbers didn’t take into account previous cost-cutting measures, such as a plan to eliminate transport services for disadvantaged workers to get to their jobs. Haley said the agency instead switched to $75 debit cards that covered the workers’ costs for travel by their own means.
Temporary Assistance to Needy Family payments were also cut. For a parent with two children, checks went from $270 on average each month to $216. Incoming DSS Director Lillian Koller says the cuts make it even more important for the state to work on getting those on welfare into jobs.
It’s so inconsequential at the levels that it’s at that’s it’s not a means to survive on… I expect there to be a continued restraint and then, ultimately, reduction in the number of people needing this assistance because we’re putting our focus on getting them into jobs.
Haley said a low level of federal support has forced the state to shift its priorities.
If it (TANF) was addressing poverty, it’s not doing that well. All of a sudden, you’ve got these big states like Florida and others that are getting all of these massive amounts of money, but they don’t have the poverty numbers we have. We’ve got a smaller state, so we’re not realizing what should be done.
Haley pledged to work with the state’s congressional delegation to address that problem.
The agency also cut $5 million from its childcare programs.