Advocates Condemn Governor's Budget Plan
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 24, 2003
ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA--Last Friday, a group of disability advocates gathered at the Capitol to condemn budget cuts proposed by the governor that would significantly reduce housing support, training and personal care to Minnesotans with disabilities.
Governor Tim Pawlenty's budget proposal calls for $80 million in cuts to services in an effort to deal with the state's budget deficit. Pawlenty said funding for health care is out of balance with other spending in the state.
"The governor has referred to the growth in health care spending as a sumo wrestler that must be confronted," John Tschida, co-chairman of the Minnesota Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities, told the Star Tribune. The consortium represents 40 disability groups across the state. "Our sincere hope is that his sumo wrestler does not acquire a disability, because this budget proposal, if enacted, would not provide much help."
Tschida said the governor's plan would hurt the people who can least afford to pay for it. Costs of transportation and prescription drugs would increase, while agencies such as the Minnesota State Council on Disability and the eight Centers for Independent Living would receive no state funds, he explained.
Jenna Morrisette-Johnson, 20, who works at Target and goes to school, currently lives with her family through the help of in-home personal care services. She and her family are worried that if such services were cut, she may have to move into a residential facility.
"That's not how I want to live my life," Morrissette-Johnson said.