The Human Cost of the MA Budget Plan
Monday, January 30, 2012
BOSTON - Groups which advocate for people with disabilities across the Bay State say the more than $32 billion state budget plan Gov. Deval Patrick released last week could carry a great human cost if enacted.
The budget would slash spending that supports thousands of persons with disabilities and their families. The spending blueprint calls for $5.5 million in cuts to family-support programs alone.
The governor has been sympathetic in the past, says Leo Sarkissian, executive director of The Arc of Massachusetts, but these proposed cuts are devastating.
"Basically, he's historically been a strong Community First proponent, and for families, but this budget takes away funding for about 2,200 families."
Sarkissian says 20,000 families across the state are eligible for assistance from family support. It's cost-effective, he says, because it allows many adults to continue to live with families at home where care is much less expensive than other options.
The Turning 22 program also is targeted for about $3 million in cuts. Sarkissian says that program helps students who will require adult services after high school, with the proposed cuts potentially leaving hundreds scrambling for options.
"These students who have intellectual disabilities ... will be facing a closed door - 500 of them, we think."
Gary Blumenthal, executive director of the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers, says these proposals are troubling but not final at this point.
"As revenues increase, we will ask the governor to reconsider these cuts and consider issuing a supplemental budget."
Blumenthal also sees ample opportunity to change the budget in the House and Senate before it returns to Patrick for his signature.
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