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Health Cabinet Outlines Budget Reduction Game Plan

Josh James

Lawmakers in Frankfort heard updates on how the state Cabinet for Health and Family Services plans to grapple with $64 million in proposed cuts Wednesday. But Democrats still say the strategy is short on details and long on optimism.

In testimony to a House budget subcommittee, Cabinet Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson said the agency would refrain from across-the-board cuts to programs and activities - choosing instead to tailor the reductions to each department. To curb costs, the cabinet plans to eliminate positions by attrition, take advantage of vacancies, reduce business travel, and review contracts.

Louisville Democrat Mary Lou Marzian sounded doubtful the agency could unearth the tens of millions of dollars the governor wants without cutting deeper.

"We need a lot more specifics and how is this going to affect services to our most vulnerable folks," she said.

The presentation marked Glisson's second appearance before the committee in as many weeks. At a previous meeting lawmakers accused cabinet officials of stonewalling. This week tensions ratcheted down, though committee chair Joni Jenkins noted some lawmakers still feel as if they're crafting a budget in the dark.

Glisson has urged patience as the staff investigates which departments can better absorb the cuts.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.