Governor spares major cuts to Disability Services– Vigil seen as having impact

See Press Release below that recently went out to news organizations statewide.
Governor spares major Cuts to Disability Services
Families/Advocates thank Gov. for values-based budget decisions
Vigil seen as having impact
Boston – In a unambiguous demonstration of his values, Governor Patrick today showed his commitment to protecting the most vulnerable populations in Massachusetts.
The Governor announced that he will largely spare disability services, cutting 1.6 percent of total funding in EOHHS (Exec. Office of Health and Human Services), the office that includes DDS and other disability agencies.
Facing a $600 million budget gap, disability advocates understood that cuts to DDS could total about $70 million, a level that would have decimated the Safety Net for more than 10,000 individuals and families with disabilities (not to mention the similar impact of earlier cuts). Because of the leadership of Gov. Patrick and EOHHS Sec. Judy Ann Bigby, the cuts to DDS now equal $7.7 million.
“Families will be greatly relieved by the Governor’s decision,” said The Arc’s President Frederick Misilo. “While the reductions for DDS and other disability agencies still require sacrifices, we understand that some level of reduction was inevitable.”
“We thank Governor Patrick for using a values-based approach to these tough budget decisions,” said Leo Sarkissian, Executive Director of The Arc, noting that education and jobs investment, in addition to human services, were tops on the Governor’s priority list. “He clearly appreciates that vulnerable populations need to be protected,” Sarkissian said.
Members of The Arc and our partner organizations Mass. Families Organizing for Change (MFOFC) and the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers (ADDP) along with other groups held a “Vigil to save our Safety Net” at the offices of the Governor, the House Speaker and Senate President over the past three weeks to focus attention on previous cuts and the potential devastation of further reductions.
“The personal stories of those hundreds of vigilers appears to have been heard loud and clear,” Sarkissian said. “We know that Speaker DeLeo and Senate President Murray along with other leaders have been supportive of disability and human services in the past. We trust that they will approve expanded 9C authority so that these cuts will remain at this level.”
Sarkissian also noted that the Governor’s decision saves individuals and families from what in the past has been an emotional roller coaster. In past crises, severe cuts were announced only to be rolled back once advocates were forced to rally to demonstrate just how damaging the cuts would be in practice.  The governor’s courageous decision today protects families and individuals from that trauma.
With $45 million in cuts in DDS alone in the FY10 budget (finalized in July), about 4,000 individuals and families lost essential services, such as Family Supports, Day/Employment and Transportation. An additional 400 individuals lost employment support through the Mass. Rehabilitation Commission, not to mention cuts at other agencies.
The Governor’s proposed cuts in this round total $7.7 million at DDS, including $4.8 million to community residential services and $1.5 Million to transportation. As these cuts come midway through the fiscal year, the impact will be about double at least 50% higher and possibly more depending on how long it takes to implement them.  The Governor also reduced state personnel at DDS by $1.38 Million which represents a 2 % reduction.  The administration account and transportation accounts had been reduced in the FY0 budget as well.