Budget Cuts Could Hurt State's Most Vulnerable

Friday, September 1st 2017, 5:29 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

State leaders are meeting behind closed doors at the capitol looking at ways of raising money and cutting costs, but for some those cuts will run deep.

Greg Mitchell is the face of those cuts. He's quadriplegic after a football injury 30 years ago. Since then his mother and an in-home assistant have been caring for Greg; dressing him, bathing him, feeding him, giving him his medications. It's a 24-hour a day job.

The Department of Human Services pays for the assistant to be there 31 hours per week, but with budget cuts Greg found out those hours are being cut to less than 15 per week. 

At 72-years old and with a bad back from years of lifting Greg, his mother simply can't make up the difference. Greg fears he will have to go to a nursing facility. 

"Which is going to cost taxpayers around $5,000-to-$6,000 a month, if not more. And right now at the house it's around $2,200." He said.

Greg’s mother, Mona Mitchell, added "Yeah I'm scared because I don't want to put him in a nursing home where he won't have the care that he has now."

Over the past two years DHS has cut $80 million. Since July they've cut $9.2 million from the program that funds Greg's care. Representative Bobby Cleveland (R) Cleveland County says the state is giving DHS plenty of money but the agency is mismanaging it. 

"They got money. They just need to spend it correctly,” Representative Cleveland said. “It's disgusting to have a state agency that so mismanages money and nothing's being done about it."

A spokesman for DHS declined to comment on Representative Cleveland’s comments. 

Ms. Mitchell says she doesn't care about politicians bickering over the budget or who's to blame for the crisis. She just cares about her son and she says she wishes state leaders would too.

"I'm sure if one of their children was in this shape they darn sure wouldn't be cutting it."