Advocates rally for social services funding
Stephanie Hymas stood in the state Capitol building on Monday with her children, waving a placard as part of a rally to support funding for substance abuse prevention and treatment programs.
Hymas is a former methamphetamine addict and a Midvale mother of two who credits a county treatment facility with preserving her family.
Without it, "I would have lost my kids," she said.
Hymas and other advocates tried to encourage lawmakers, who are weighing budget cuts, to fund social service programs. Rep. Becky Lockhart, the new speaker of the Utah House, was among the speakers.
"I'm a big believer in treatment programs," Lockhart, R-Provo, told those who attended.
After her speech, Lockhart said she would support giving one-time money to the Drug Offender Reform Act (DORA), which is facing possible extinction. The program provides select felony offenders with drug treatment and increased community supervision, aiming to prevent future crimes by those who might otherwise violate probation.
DORA is one of 124 programs on a tentative list of cuts the Social Services Appropriation subcommittee unveiled on Monday. The panel is scheduled to vote on the revised priority list Tuesday at what leaders said will be the last regular session meeting.
The list will be forwarded to the Executive Appropriations Committee, which may make changes as its leaders work to reduce a budget deficit. Officials expect to announce state revenue figures in the next two weeks, which may determine whether money will be spent on the programs now slated to lose funding.
Hymas, twice jailed during her years of addiction, said she is cheering on all efforts to help former addicts including a Valley Mental Health program that has provided counseling to her end. "I've been clean nine months," she said, her 5-year-old wandering underfoot.