Williams Calls for Spending 'Rainy Day' Cash to Save Social Services


House Speaker Kent Williams called today for the state to spend half its roughly $800 million in emergency reserve funds to prevent social service agencies from closing. That sets up a fight with Republicans in the Senate, where speaker Ron Ramsey already has publicly stated he wants to leave those funds essentially untouched. In a sit-down with reporters, Williams also jabbed at Ramsey and the rest of the candidates for governor. His comments:
"We're probably going to want to use more of the reserves especially to protect some programs that depend on federal matching dollars. If we don't have any state dollars allocated to it, then a lot of these agencies are probably going to have to shut down, a lot of in-home services and a lot of vital services. My philosophy has always been, if your children are going to go hungry or your family is going to suffer medically, you don't keep money in your savings account.

"I look at it like we're protecting our children and we're protecting those who can't help themselves. We can save some programs for one more year. I think we need to dip into the reserves and do that. I would like to see us use maybe up to half of the reserves. We don't want to use it all. We don't want to have zero left. But you know, we've got seven people running for governor and they all say they can fix the problem. So let's find out. Let's have the election tomorrow, if we've got somebody out there who can take care of the problem."

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