The Senate budget released today would close two of the state’s five residential facilities for the developmentally disabled, Rainier School in Buckley and Frances Haddon Morgan Center in Bremerton, and plows most of the savings into programs that would keep those with disabilities in their home communities rather than in state institutions.
The budget proposals by House Democrats and Gov. Chris Gregoire called for closing Yakima Valley School, not Rainier.
With nearly 400 residents, Rainier is the largest of the state’s five Residential Habilitation Centers. Republican budget writer Sen. Joseph Zarelli said it makes more sense to close a larger facility and said Rainier is understaffed.
Tom Dean, who said his son Patrick, 49, is happy at Rainier School, wants all of the RHCs to stay open. He doesn’t believe the projections of $8.8 million in cost savings and said closings risk traumatizing residents.
“Trauma could bring earlier death to those people,” he said by phone tonight.
Budget writers said it remains to be seen whether other lawmakers will agree to the closures of the facilities, which have many allies who have averted proposed closures in the past.
Democratic Senate budget chairman Ed Murray said a former budget writer once told him, “Anything to do with RHCs is the third rail of this budget, and if I touch it I die.”