The state Health Department likely will see a flat budget “at best” when the Legislature approves its budget for the next fiscal year, the state's health commissioner said Thursday.
“We're on high alert as we usually are at this time of year,” Dr. Terry Cline said at the state Health Board meeting Thursday.
Along with the budget, the agency's 2014 legislative priorities also will include getting a law passed to ban selling electronic cigarettes to minors.
Mark Newman, director of state and federal policy for the state Health Department, said another priority will be to pass a bill that would provide a rebate for residential storm shelters or safe rooms.
The state's emergency management program has a system in place to provide the rebates but has run out of federal money. The state Health Department's proposal is to reinstitute money for the program so the rebates can continue, he said.
That proposal includes providing $1 million in state funding for a $1,000 rebate for 1,000 new storm shelters, he said.
However, Newman said he wasn't optimistic the money would be available.
“The economic environment at the current time, to be perfectly honest with you, does not look favorable for the rebate on the tornado shelters,” Newman said. “It will be a struggle to find funding for that with so many entities looking for funding at this time.”