Schaefer continues consolidation plans for social services


ANNAPOLIS -- Three weeks after introducing major legislation to reorganize state government, Gov. William Donald Schaefer has told legislators he now has a new plan in mind.

Mr. Schaefer still wants to take the state's welfare and medical assistance programs and place them in a single, new Department of Income and Health Security.

But he now proposes to move foster care and other social service programs into the agency that handles juvenile delinquents, effectively eliminating the Department of Human Resources.

Only two years ago, Governor Schaefer won a hard-fought battle to make Juvenile Services a separate department, partially on the contention that juvenile services should not be grouped with other activities.

Even seasoned government-watchers are using score cards to keep up with the latest proposed changes. But the bottom line is that in shuffling programs that are now in the Departments of Health and Mental Hygiene, Human Resources, Juvenile Services and Education, the state would end up with a total of four agencies -- not five, as proposed three weeks ago.

In announcing the new plan yesterday, administration officials said it was developed in response to criticism from legislators, who had questioned the necessity of having five agencies where there are now just four.

But it also is clear that the administration seriously considered the new plan only after the abrupt resignation two weeks ago of Health Secretary Adele A. Wilzack.

Her departure meant Mr. Schaefer did not need to end up with five departments in order to have positions for all of his current Cabinet secretaries as well as a spot for Nelson J. Sabatini, a former deputy health secretary and now acting secretary, whom Mr. Schaefer would like to promote.

The reorganization unveiled yesterday raises questions about the job Mr. Sabatini would hold if the plan were approved. It also was not clear what job, if any, would go to Carolyn W. Colvin, the present human resources secretary. Administration officials declined comment on speculation that Ms. Colvin would be named to head the health department while Mr. Sabatini would head the new Income and Health Security Department.

"Right now, we're only proposing the reorganization. We aren't discussing personalities or candidates for positions," said Paul E. Schurick, Mr. Schaefer's press secretary.

Officials did indicate that Mr. Schaefer would still nominate Nancy Grasmick, the acting secretary of juvenile services, to head that department in its proposed new incarnation as the Department of Children, Youth and Family Services.

Administration officials acknowledged yesterday that the reorganization would cost money, but said they had not yet tallied the cost.

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