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Inefficient Child Support Enforcement Kickbacks Cut at Federal Level

These payments have become direct and indirect incentive for judges and other officials to drive child support payments as high as possible. This creates a HUGE conflict of interest for these people and is in fact a violation of the oath of office of judges becuase they can not be involved in cases where they have a financial interest.

http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/stories/MYSA120105.01O.letters.11e4e8bd.html ran my brother's letter to the editor:
Budget cuts a blessing
Re: "Deadbeats may get a break from funding cut" (Tuesday):
I, for one, am glad to see possible budget cuts for Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. His office has become little more than a welfare collection agency for single mothers who are owed child support. Yet he does nothing for single fathers who are denied court ordered visitation rights.
But reducing funds spent for child support enforcement is not enough. We also need to drastically reduce the billions paid annually in child support and the billions of welfare dollars paid to children of broken homes. How? By upholding the sanctity of marriage and reducing the number of divorces. Fewer divorces will result in less child support, less money spent on collecting child support and even less money spent on welfare programs.
For too many years, no-fault divorces have devastated the families of America. Divorce-friendly policies are the key reason there are way too many single moms on welfare, way too many fathers who are forcibly removed from their children's lives and, of course, way too many children who are victimized by so-called family courts.
Our courts and state agencies such as the attorney general's office need to increase pro-marriage policies and actions that keep families intact. As temporarily painful as it may be, the best long-term solution is to cut wasteful spending on these failed social policies.
Ted W. Mathis,
Live Oak
This is what I sent the San Antonio Express-News
Dear Editor,
Your name-calling headline, "Deadbeats may get a break from funding cut," was erroneous. 
You and every other tax-paying citizen will get a break from the funding cut.
Attorney General Abbot is concerned about loosing the juice from the Federal teat. His concern is the cut his office faces, not children or moms or disenfranchised dads.
Your article said, "About 66 percent of Abbott's $230 million annual budget for child support enforcement comes from the federal government." You also stated, "Abbott's office collects child support payments for about 1.1 million Texas families."
These figures indicate that our AG collects more than $200 each year from the tax paying public just to keep records on one child support paying parent.
To paraphrase Abbott's own reasoning, 'This sort of government math is exactly what the public should find maddening.'
Bear in mind that most noncustodial parents pay their child support in full and on time every month. Most custodial parents work as well; most are not on welfare.
On the other hand, most of the 'deadbeats' Abbott likes to slam would be on welfare except for one thing - they don't have custody. What is the AG doing about helping these poverty stricken parents?  Nothing!
"I think all Texans agree that Texas children should not be the target of budget cuts," Abbott said. I agree.
I think all Texas agree that inefficient Texas bureaucracies should be the target of budget cuts.
Web Posted: 11/29/2005 12:00 AM CST
Gary Scharrer
Express-News Austin Bureau
AUSTIN State Attorney General Greg Abbott sounded the alarm Monday that Texas could lose $418 million in federal child support enforcement funding through 2010, crippling his office's collection efforts.
The U.S. House recently voted to cut child support enforcement funds as part of an effort to reduce the federal budget deficit.
If those cuts stick, Abbott said, he would have to trim his 2,700 child support enforcement staff by more than half, resulting in an estimated $3 billion drop in child support collections over the next four years.
"I think all Texans agree that Texas children should not be the target of budget cuts," Abbott said. "The proposed cuts would take food off of the tables of children and clothes off their backs."
At a news conference Monday, he introduced San Antonio mother Carrol Carreon, who struggled with two daughters during the eight years her ex-husband evaded paying.
Carreon turned to the attorney general's office after exhausting her own efforts following a divorce 16 years ago. Her ex-husband owed $18,000 and had not made a single payment until the agency obtained an order garnishing wages, she said.
"Everybody looked. Nobody could find him," Carreon said of her ex-husband. "He was found, and he's paying."
Carreon, manager of a convenience store, now gets $250 a month to help support her two daughters.
A congressional retreat from child support enforcement would be a terrible blow, Carreon said.
"A lot of kids go without a lot of things, especially food and clothing and even housing, because you have to have the money to make it," she said. "And it takes two people to raise them, and if you're not together, it still takes two people."
Abbott's office collected $188 million in child support last year for about 100,000 San Antonio-area families. The attorney general has six child support offices in Bexar, Comal and Kendall counties.
In a letter Monday to Texas' U.S. senators, Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn, Abbott said the loss of federal child support enforcement funds in Texas would trigger a $1.85 billion increase in public assistance costs for food stamps, Medicaid and help for needy families deprived of child support.
"This sort of government math is exactly what the public finds maddening," Abbott said in the letter.
The Senate did not cut child support enforcement funding in its version of the budget reconciliation bill. Senate and House negotiators will seek a compromise bill over the next few weeks.
The House approved the measure earlier this month 217-215, with only Republican members supporting the cuts.
San Antonio's two Republican House members U.S. Reps. Henry Bonilla and Lamar Smith were not available Monday to respond to Abbott's opposition. Abbott also is a Republican.
About 66 percent of Abbott's $230 million annual budget for child support enforcement comes from the federal government, said Janece Rolfe, spokeswoman for the child support division.
Texas children would suffer "if these drastic measures make it into law," Abbott said. "Texas children don't need a lump of coal from Congress this Christmas. Washington lawmakers need to fully understand the harm this legislation, if passed, will cause Texas children and families."
Carreon said her daughters were happy when some money finally began flowing from their absent father.
"They felt he should be doing something, even though now they don't want nothing do with him," Carreon said.
Abbott's office collects child support payments for about 1.1 million Texas families.
Sometimes a single phone call influences a deadbeat parent to start paying support, he said. But other cases require investigators, with arrest powers, to chase down absent parents and bring them to court.