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Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute Releases Analysis of Prince George's County's Health and Human Services Budget

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 General News J E 4
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BALTIMORE, May 17, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Investment in health and human services in Prince George's County is growing, both in total spending and as a percentage of the county's budget, but the programs are heavily dependent on federal and state grants that are at risk of drying up, according to a new study released today by Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute, a project of Maryland Nonprofits.

"Prince George's County's spending on health and human services is higher than in several other nearby jurisdictions, but only 16 percent of it comes from the county's own sources, the lowest percentage of all jurisdictions studied," said Neil Bergsman, Director of Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute. "At a time when state and federal budgets are tightening, we are concerned that the programs that help those in need in the county are themselves vulnerable."

The report, "FUNDING FOR HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Comparative Budget Analysis for Prince George's County," compares the county's spending on health and human services with that in Montgomery, Howard, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore counties and Baltimore City in Maryland, plus Fairfax and Arlington counties in Virginia. It also compares Prince George's County's grantmaking process with that of the other jurisdictions.

According to the report, Prince George's County's investment in health and human services grew from $177 million in 2009 to $199 million in 2011. Spending as a share of the total budget increased to 6.4 percent in 2011 from 5.8 percent in 2009. Of other jurisdictions studied, only Baltimore City's percentage is higher, at 11 percent. Prince George's County spending per person in poverty is $3,270, roughly in the middle of the jurisdictions surveyed in the study.

But Prince George's County's health and human services spending of $231 per capita is at the low end of the spectrum of the jurisdictions surveyed; only Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties are lower.

The report noted that in Montgomery County spending is $250.9 million on health and human services in 2011, and 70 percent comes from local funds, compared to 16 percent for Prince George's County. Other jurisdictions surveyed in the report have percentages that fall between these two counties' numbers.

While Prince George's County spending for health and human services programs has been stable for several years at about a 6 percent share of the county's operating budget, that figure includes funding from all sources. "The challenge would appear to come in fiscal FY 2012 and subsequent years, when federal stimulus funds may no longer be available to bolster local budgets," the report said. "And the appetite for budget cutting at both the federal and state levels will create severe tests for budget setting at the local level."

Noting that Prince George's County's procedures for awarding grants to nonprofits are more informal than in other nearby jurisdictions, the report suggests that the county's procedures could be improved by increasing the transparency and through clearer application guidelines.

The full report and a 3-page summary are available at www.marylandpolicy.org.

About the Maryland Budget & Tax Policy Institute

The Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute is a nonpartisan research organization that provides timely, accurate and accessible analysis of state budget and tax issues. In addition to general budget and tax research and analysis, the Institute examines issues affecting low-income Marylanders and other vulnerable populations and the important community programs that serve them. For additional information, to be added to our email list, or to make a tax-deductable contribution, please visit our website at www.marylandpolicy.org.

The Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute gratefully acknowledges the Ford Foundation and the Open Society institute, which provide major financial support for the Institute under the State Fiscal Analysis Initiative. Additional general support for the Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute is provided by the Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation, the Fund for Change, the Moriah Find, the Maryland State Teachers Association, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, the Zanvyl & Isabelle Krieger Fund and generous individual donors.

The Institute is a project of Maryland Nonprofits, www.mdnonprofits.org.

SOURCE Maryland Budget and Tax Policy Institute

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