Budget cuts to affect services for disabled Texans

A rally was held in Houston today to urge Texas lawmakers to balance the state budget without cutting services to disabled Texans

March 26, 2011 4:42:48 PM PDT
The state budget crunch could put a pinch on services for thousands of people with disabilities. Saturday, families of those who would be affected banded together to rally against the proposed cuts. Several hundred people gathered on the hill at Discovery Green with a message to state legislators: "Don't cut? care."

Charlie jones holds a picture of his daughter, Tiffany.

At 29, she is in a wheelchair and diapers.

"I'll always remember my wife said, 'What are we going to do? I have no idea what we are going to do with this little girl.' I said 'We'll take her home, feed her and love her.' We've been feeding and loving her for 29 years." Jones said.

Once Tiffany was in her early 20s, Jones' private insurance would no longer cover her. After eight years on a waiting list, she was accepted to a program at Village Learning Center.

"For her, she does little things in her social skills, but little things motivate her," Jones said.

Ken and Donna Lawrence have two children with disabilities, Miranda and Westin. The program gives them help at home so they can go to work.

"It helps us keep our children at home and that's the most important thing to us. Forever, we want to keep them at home," Lawrence said.

Severe budget cuts by the Texas legislature could change that. Service providers for thousands with developmental and intellectual disabilities could be forced out of business.

"We could have to be discharging people from services and I don't know where they would go very honestly," said David Leatham.

Leatham is the executive director at nonprofit provider Vita Living, where they serve 450 people through Medicaid programs.

"We're concerned the system will actually collapse," he said.

Parents, providers and community leaders rallied together Saturday to raise awareness and urge lawmakers to find a way to balance the budget without cutting necessary services.

Jones not only worries about his daughter's care, but the 8,000 families behind them on a waiting list.

"There's going to be something that's just cut out from under them," he said.

The House is expected to vote on the budget this week.