Bill that restored cuts to services for disabled ‘big’

Passing the Vikings stadium bill was a big victory for Minnesotans who have been pushing for this legislation for years. Another measure, one that received significantly less publicity, was a victory for thousands of other Minnesotans — a bill that restored some cuts made last year to services that support people with disabilities and their families. This bill temporarily restored wages that had been cut for staff who provide direct care for people with disabilities in their homes; delayed a cut for other disability service providers that would have otherwise taken effect this summer; and reformed a state health care program so people with disabilities can continue working and still get the health-care coverage they need.

As a single mom with a child with multiple disabilities, I know the importance of disability services and the stress families feel when those services aren’t adequately funded. My 6-year-old son is a delight, but he also has significant needs. His kidneys have never worked properly, and he already has had 11 surgeries in his young life – the first when he was 10 days old. In addition, he has significant hearing loss and learning difficulties.

I receive a small grant from human services that helps cover some of the special expenses that come with meeting my son’s many needs, but it’s still a daily struggle, especially since I recently lost my job. Our friends and relatives have been wonderful to our family; in fact, they are holding a fundraiser in the coming weeks to help cover my son’s medical bills. But we can’t meet his needs all by ourselves, and neither can families who need and depend on services they receive from county and state agencies.

I was pleased to see some budget cuts restored by this year’s Legislature and the governor. During next year’s legislative session, let’s continue to make disability services a priority, and let’s ensure that we adequately fund those services that make life possible for families like mine all across Minnesota who deal with major challenges every day. — Nichole Schooley, Zimmerman