The steep cuts that have been made in the Consumer Product Safety Commission's current budget and staff will lead to a sharp increase in deaths and injuries from unsafe and defective products, the commission warned yesterday.
The 26 percent reduction in the agency's 1982 fiscal year budget to $33 million and the 30 percent cut in the agency's staff to 630 persons "was a debilitating blow," Commissioner Stuart M. Statler said during a Senate oversight hearing.
"Hundreds of more people will be killed each year; thousands of more people will be injured" as a result of the cutbacks, Statler added, echoing the comments made by his fellow comissioners at the Senate consumer subcommittee hearing.
"There are a lot of very defective products out there that we're not going to be able to do an adequate job on because our resources have been reduced," Commissioner Sam Zagoria said. If the agency's budget continues to get cut, "The title of the CPSC may be an empty kind of thing," Zagoria added.
The hearing was requested by Sen. Wendell Ford (D-Ky.) nearly two months ago, shortly after it was revealed that at this time of sharp budget cuts the CPSC's new chairman, Nancy Harvey Steorts, spent about $10,000 to redecorate her office.
Saying she believed the costs to be only about $6,000, Steorts defended the expenditures: "It was really maintenance . . . the office when I came in was in need of cleaning and maintenance."
Ford, however, charged that the redecoration costs were far more than Steorts had claimed--perhaps even 2 1/2 times as much. It was "a particularly unwise expenditure," Ford said, noting it created the impression that the chairman was more interested in her perquisites than in the agency's mission.