Thursday, August 27, 2009

Maryland disabled people confront governor over budget cuts that they say will hurt disability programs

From WJLA-TV. Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley is pictured.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Two brothers fighting cerebral palsy say Md.'s budget cuts could make life tough for them and people like them.

Aaron Kaufman has watched the state budget cutting process more closely than most. He was born with cerebral palsy, so was his older brother, Jay.

Kaufman says that possibly every Marylander with a developmental disability is going to suffer because of the cuts approved in Annapolis.

"It's hard to fathom every consequence because the decisions have just come down...but it promises to be dire," Kaufman said.

Among the 450 million trimmed from Maryland's budget, in addition to employee layoffs and furloughs, are funds for the Developmental Disabilities Administration.

Aaron says day programs and groups homes like the one where his more severely affected brother live will suffer.

"The governor's decision today cuts those wonderful group homes, those miracle workers that give them a since of dignity every day," he said.

Kaufman, who has graduated Magna Cum Laude from Montgomery College and starts this week at the University of Maryland, fears that the 19,0000 Marylanders with disabilities now waiting for day or residential programs may never get in, leaving aging parents as the primary caregivers.

"I have come to the sad conclusion that the governor doesn't feel people with disabilities are a priority," he said.