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Advocates say those with disabilities hit hard by proposed budget cuts

Advocates for people with disabilities said today that the budget proposals moving quickly through the Legislature would put a disproportionate share of the cuts on those who need the most help.

"Disability advocates expressed extreme disappointment in response to the specific disability services cuts included in the Minnesota House and Senate budget proposals for health and human services," said a report from the Minnesota Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities:

Said Steve Larson, MN-CCD co-chair:

“Legislative leaders have repeated on many occasions since the beginning of this legislative session that protecting services for Minnesotans with disabilities is a priority for this legislature. The cuts proposed in these bills will result in Minnesotans with disabilities bearing much of the brunt of balancing our state’s budget deficit — indicating significant inconsistency between what legislative leaders are saying publicly and what they are proposing through legislation."

A particular concern is cuts to programs that let those with disabilities continue to work and live independently, the group said, which will lead to increased long–term costs.

The House HHS budget proposal would cut $373 million over two years from a waiver program that helps Minnesotans with disabilities to identify and maintain employment, housing and transportation, the group said. And it cuts personal care services to help those who need assistance to bathe, shower and dress each day — aid that is often needed to hold a job.

Said MN-CCD Co–Chair Chris Bell:

“Why would we want to cut the very services that allow Minnesotans with disabilities to make the most of their lives and livelihood? It is these services that increase the quality of life for our community members with disabilities, and that save our state tremendous amounts of money by preventing more expensive, institutional type placements.”

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