California has enjoyed an economic resurgence after a terrible recession. It took several years, but the Great State of California is back on top where it should be. Governor Brown fixed the budget, and California in enjoying low unemployment because jobs are being created and the state is therefore collecting revenue, putting away funds for a rainy day (if it ever rains again) and fixing the infrastructure. Californians are back in the black!
All except the developmentally disabled.
The most vulnerable group of Californians are not part of this great comeback. There has been draconian cuts over the past 10 years resulting in less and less service for the disabled. One would think now that the money is back, the services would increase, but that is not the case.
Out society is increasingly fractious, There is rich vs poor, landlord vs tenant, democrat vs republican, hipsters vs just about everybody else and so on. People are dug into their positions and unwilling to give an inch which makes getting things done very difficult. .
Regardless of whether one is a "have" or a "have not", though, nearly everyone agrees that taking care of the truly disabled is the responsibility of society, and that means the government. Whether you are for big government or small government, the responsibility doesn't change. And one thing is very clear: The State of California is not living up to its responsibility.
The services for the developmentally disabled have not increased in 10 years. The Regional Centers, which are charged with being the gatekeepers of the every dwindling services, are alienating families and caregivers with the parsimonious provision of services. In their defense though (which is not a position I generally take), there has to be money to provide the services.
The governor did include a paltry 5% increase in the budget for these services, but that was cut out by the legislature so that they can decide what to do about the myriad of services, not just those for the developmentally disabled. This includes medi-cal, which is also woefully underfunded. Medi-cal effects many many more Californians than the developmentally disabled and also needs to be funded. People cannot access medical care if doctors won't take medi-cal patients because of the low reimbursement rates. There are two problems, not one and both need addressing separately. Tying these two together will undoubtedly result in yet another delay in service increases for the developmentally disabled, which is simply not fair.
People who fall under the umbrella of developmentally disabled include the Maggies of the world with cerebral palsy and those with autism, and intellectual disabilities. Some need to be cared for and it is time to do that. Families are pushed past the breaking point and need help. Many of these people can take care of themselves and live independently or with minimal support, if there are training and jobs programs to get them launched. They can live productive lives, pay taxes, raise families and contribute to the fabric of society. But none of that can happen without the government programs and those can't happen without money.
It's time to stop being shortsighted. It's time to recognize and take responsibility for an entire population of people that the state has ignored far too long. It's time to give them a chance.
Those of you who are interested can join in a demonstration in Sacramento tomorrow The legislature is just about to break session without taking care of its responsibilities but they will have to hear from this part of their constituency first.
Oh I wish Maggie were here to tell them a thing or two.....
Here's the information on the demonstration tomorrow. A link to an article from the chronicle - but in case you don't want to click, I pasted in the entire article below.