Funding for Disability Services Topic of Waite Park Conference

Funding for Disability Services Topic of Waite Park Conference Click to Enlarge Photo:

Apr 16, 2013 at 3:11 pm

WAITE PARK, Minn. (KNSI) - Governor Mark Dayton's 2013 budget proposal aims to use 2 billion dollars in increased revenue to impact a wide range of state services, including those for people with disabilities. 

As such, one organization rallied today in central Minnesota to show support for the plan, while presenting statistics and testimony on why it's important.

The Arc Minnesota, an advocacy organization, hosted a news conference on Tuesday morning to express support for the budget's increased revenue to prevent cuts to home, school, medical and community supports for people with disabilities.

According to Arc's research, the past 10 years of budget deficits have resulted in cuts

Attendees heard testimony from parents like Tiffany Frank of St. Cloud, who says the budget plan is "essential" to her family.

Frank's two and a half year old son, Eli, has Down syndrome, and Frank pays for occupational, speech and physical therapy for her son on a sliding-scale basis, and says many families are struggling with the increasingly high fees for the services their loved ones need.

"I'm concerned with what can happen in the next 5-10 years," Frank says. "It trickles down, year after year. I wonder, how will it affect Eli in terms of jobs, transitional housing, even school."

Frank says she's blessed because Eli hasn't experienced many medical problems. Still, as he approaches school age, she wonders how state funding will affect his education down the road.

According to Arc, budget cuts at the state level have occured at the rate of over 1% every year since 2010.

This has resulted in higher rates of joblessness for disabled Minnesotans due to a lack of funding for community supports, decreased wages for employees working as personal care attendants, and stymied the process of lifting a four-year moratorium on the creation of new corporate group homes, for which there is currently a wait.

Arc Policy Director Steve Larson says they support the governor's budget to "ensure a system is in place that meets everyone's needs."

The state of Minnesota faces a $627 million deficit for the next two years.

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