As the House majority operating budget is being publicly reviewed, Reps. Norma Smith and Maureen Walsh are deeply troubled with the proposed cuts to the developmentally disabled (DD) community. Money to fund a new adult daycare program is taken from the DD supported employment program. In the proposed House Democrat budget there are $54 million in reductions to supported employment and a shift of $41 million of that money to daytime programs in lieu of work.
“This issue demands attention. The budget takes away supported employment just to fund a program to keep many of the same people in a daycare program. These individuals simply want the opportunity for independence, dignity and some real choices,” said Smith, R-Clinton, ranking Republican on the House Community Development and Housing Committee. “We know that meaningful work and being able to contribute our talent and skills is vitally important to each one of us. And, if we can help encourage steady work, we may also be able to save subsidies from both the state and federal levels such as Medicaid, food stamps and social security disability.
“There certainly is value in having our folks with disabilities out working in our communities. Not only for their own sense of self-worth as employed citizens, but also for the betterment of the community as others learn about acceptance, tolerance, and compassion when we have disabled individuals assimilated into our local employment venues,” added Walsh, R-Walla Walla, ranking Republican on the House Early Learning and Human Services Committee.
National research studies have analyzed the cost efficiency of supported employment services, showing that every $1 invested is returned to taxpayers at $1.46. A King County study found the cost benefit ratio to be $1.74.
“The cuts to programs that help our developmentally disabled population go too far in the budget proposal from the other side of the aisle,” said Smith. “Supported Employment for the developmentally disabled is extremely important for these individuals and their families. These programs provide life skills and independence. We need to help those with disabilities so they can be active in their home communities, and contribute to the workforce in a meaningful and fulfilling way.”
“We have been talking about creating jobs and providing stability to our economy this session.” said Walsh. “This is a budget that not only impacts the disabled, but it cuts jobs. These individuals are wage earners and taxpayers, and valuable members of the working community. They provide a boost to our economy too.”