Closing the 25 - 27 billion dollar budget shortfall for Texas has been the main focus of the 82nd Texas Legislative Session. Advocates have flocked to the capitol for hearings and testimony centered on giving faces and names to those who would be affected by proposed cuts meant to bridge the shortfall.
Advocates and Legislators alike have had to face a hard fact: cutting services to individuals with disabilities saves money and, in many cases, simultaneously destroys health, wellbeing, and life-saving programs for an already vulnerable population. Children with special needs in Texas will be among the thousands of lives changed when budget cuts go into effect.
Join advocates for health and human services, education, and other causes as Texans come together to voice major opposition to HB1.
"Don't Wreck Texas" Rally
Friday, April 1st
State Capitol (South Steps)
12 noon-10 pm, all advocates (and on until House adjournment)
See below for Nightlight Vigil on behalf of individuals with disabilities.
The entire House will debate HB1 on Friday and into the night if necessary.
"In the evening, from 8-10 pm there will be a Nightlight Vigil to honor the true voices of Texans. Stories from the Nightlight Report (http://nightlightreport.blogspot.com) will be read.***There are currently 220 public comments/stories in the report. Keep the comments coming! We will read and show respect, honor, and support for the life stories of children, youth, and adults with disabilities and speak out for funding for essential services."
***Austin Special Needs Kids Examiner has previously profiled the Nightlight Report. Here is some clarification: the report looks just like any regular blog. There is not one formal comments section for parents. Choose any blog entry by any one person and leave a comment (your story). Some choose to focus on their particular representative. Search for yours here: "Who represents me?" and then go to the Nightlight Report and see if your representative has posted on the site. Those Representatives who have participated and those who have not can be found under 'The Placeholder Posting', scroll down to find names and links then go to the comments section, and leave your story. Hang in there! It can be a bit confusing. There is no wrong way to do it, just tell your story.
A few snippets of information from recorded minutes of the Senate Finance Report for 03-24-2011 attended by the Senate Finance Sub-Committee on Medicaid regarding the proposed budget cuts:
"Waivers are not eliminated; they are ultimately reduced to certain people. People will continue to receive services with a waiver, just at a reduced amount. Some things will not be reduced, such as Nursing, Day-Habilitation, Emergency Response Services, and Home-Delivered Meals. Services which will be reduced to the 90% will be Adaptive AIDS, Minor Home Modifications, Personal Assistant Services, Debilitation, and Supported-Home-Living."
"Senator Whitmire thanked Madam Chair Nelson for her patience with him throughout the process. Transparency has allowed the members to see the faces of the people who are most affected by these cuts. Whitmire feels there is plenty of money in the rainy day fund. Respectfully, Senator Whitmire votes no, because this proposal falls short of Texans' needs."
"Senator Deuell feels the cuts are not right, but they are necessary. We are constitutionally mandated to live within our means," he said. Deuell votes favorably for this proposal knowing full-well the harm that can ensue; but this is their best work. "We must do this
The debate phase is coming to an end. If you haven't had a chance to advocate yet, the Nightlight Report and the 'Don't Wreck Texas' Rally give you an opportunity to get involved.
Press Release for April 1st Rally Distributed by Lesa Walker, MD, MPH
more photo credit: nuchylee