Unethical and immoral proposed budget cuts will affect many of Washington’s most vulnerable citizens. At the start of the legislature’s special session on Nov. 28, representatives will begin discussing the almost $2 billion budget deficit and the Department of Social and Health Service’s 10 percent proposed budget reduction.
Washington has committed to caring for our most vulnerable populations. Programs, such as supported employment, promote work for developmentally disabled adults by helping these individuals find and maintain meaningful employment in their communities.
DSHS is proposing to cut funding for supported employment. Approximately 4,100 Washingtonians with disabilities will lose their jobs from these cuts not only affecting participants of the program, but members of the entire community. Employees of supporting agencies will also lose their jobs. Parents of participants will be forced to quit their jobs to take care of their disabled sons and daughters. Additionally, local businesses will lose an integral part of their workforce.
Supported employment creates revenue. The program promotes diversity and productivity. Developmentally disabled Washingtonians, who otherwise would be isolated, unemployed and unable to contribute, are active, taxpaying members of society. According to the Washington State Employment Report of 2010, Washingtonians with developmental disabilities in individual jobs earned over $24 million in wages in 2009.
Cuts have to come from somewhere. However, cutting programs that provide jobs is not the way out of the recession.
We need to contact our legislators before Nov. 28 and advocate for continued funding for the supported employment program.