During a recent House appropriations meeting, state Rep. Dave Agema, R-Grandville, chastised the Michigan Department of Human Services over the contents a memo leaked to him.

The memo, dated Nov. 13, was sent by Terry A. Salacina, director of Field Operations Administration for the DHS, advised local offices to "expend all of your allocation. Do not attempt to save funding."

During the meeting, Agema said, "We get real upset when we read something like that ... 'use it or lose it' type of attitude.' ... We're short of money. When you say, 'Do not attempt to save any funding,' it just doesn't go over well."

After the meeting, the Department of Human Services cried foul.

Edward Woods III, a spokesman for the DHS, said Agema left out a lot of information that put the memo in proper context.

Woods said that the memo was about a program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families that is funded completely by federal dollars — not state money. Woods said the memo was stressing that the federal money was to be used on the front line, getting money to needy Michigan residents for job training and transportation to interviews as part of an effort to help get them off welfare.

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If the money is not spent on the needy residents, then it gets dispersed to other DHS programs that don't directly serve the needy residents, he said.

"It failed to inform the public that federal funds were used," Woods said. "The Department of Human Services thinks it best to get people to become self-sufficient. We need to use the federal funds. ... It is really discouraging when any lawmaker takes a shot at DHS without having the full context."

Agema said it didn't matter to him whether it was state or federal dollars, the idea of "use it or lose it" went against the idea of efficient government.

"My goal has been to make government as efficient as possible before we ever ask for another tax increase," Agema said. "It seems their goal is to spend everything they get, even if they don't need it, and ask for more."