With funding down and demand for services up, the failure of the seventh penny sales tax in November’s election means social service providers will likely look to private donors to plug budgetary holes.
But if those dollars don’t come through, cuts could be on the table.
“The penny failing means that we have less options for being able to fix the hole that’s being created,” Sarah Cavallaro told the News&Guide. Cavallaro organizes the Human Services Council, a group of the valley’s 10 largest providers of social services.
She’s also the executive director of Teton Youth and Family Services, a nonprofit that serves as a clearing house for struggling children and teens in Teton County and the surrounding area. Among other things it offers a center for youth in crisis — like those experiencing homelessness — and works with families to prevent child abuse as well as behavioral, emotional and mental health problems.
Wyoming’s human services providers are nonprofits that use philanthropic dollars and a combination of federal, state, and local government funding to deliver their services.
“We’re going to be looking to local government and looking to our donors to be able to fill the holes,” Cavallaro said. “And if we can’t do that, we’re going to have to reduce services.”
Gov. Mark Gordon has signed off on $250 million in budget cuts since March and is proposing another $515 million. Those cuts are a result of the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. But they build on cuts that past administrations and legislatures have made as demand and prices for the fossil fuels that shored up the Cowboy State’s government fell.
Town and county governments, as well as private philanthropy, have largely stepped in to fill the void for social services providers in recent years. But the cuts this year are significant, leaving providers to estimate a $3 or $4 million hole in the $16 or so million worth of services they provide.
Read the full feature in the Imprint section published in the Wednesday News&Guide. That paper will be available for $1 on news stands countywide until Tuesday.
You can also read online at JHNewsAndGuide.com.