Developmentally Disabled Rally at Capitol to Urge Funding
By Jon Jordan, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Fear of losing millions of dollars to disability services in Oklahoma caused hundreds of Oklahomans with developmental disabilities, their families and advocates to march on the steps of the state Capitol.
According to a letter written by the Developmental Disabilities Services Division to service providers for the disabled in Oklahoma, the division stands to lose $24 million when combined with the loss of matched federal dollars equals a "total budget reduction of $72 million…"
The letter written by James Nicholson, the Director of DDSD states, "The impact of a reduction of this magnitude will result in most of our service programs being unsustainable."
"Many of the provider agencies tell me many of these individuals have no family support and should these services end, they will have nowhere else to go," said Judith Goodwin, Executive Director of Oklahoma Community-Based Providers. "I can only think that the people in charge of proposing these cuts have not considered the profound impact they will have, not only on the people with disabilities, but on their support staff and others in their communities. This will be a staggering blow to community services in Oklahoma."
By taking their message to the state Capitol the groups hope to gain the attention of legislators and the Governor to demonstrate what the cuts would mean to those who suffer from disabilities. Many at the rally wore T-shirts that read "July 1st, unemployed and homeless."
Lawmakers who continue to work on the budget for next fiscal year beginning July 1 said massive cuts to state agency budgets are likely due to a projected $1.2 million shortfall.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
More on News9.com: Looming Cuts Threaten to Leave Developmentally Disabled Homeless