DHS Seeks $142 Million More to Maintain Existing Services

NOVEMBER 9, 2004 - Posted at 11:04 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The state Human Services Department wants $142 million more over the next two years than the nearly $1 billion share of state revenue it's already getting.  And the head of the agency says that amount is just to meet the rising costs of current programs without adding any new services.

Human services are presenting their budget requests to lawmakers today at the state Capitol.  DHS Director Kurt Knickrehm says the bulk of the increase is needed for Medicaid, the government health program for the poor, the elderly and the disabled.  Knickrehm says drug costs are up about 22 percent from last year.  Officials say about one million of Arkansas' 2.7 million people receive state aid.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)