Tallahassee, FL - Carrying the torch of the Special Olympics, Governor Rick Scott finished a 1.6 mile run and made his way up the steps of state capitol.
He was met there by special needs children and adults. He promised not to forget their struggles. Then, just hours later, he cut funding for the disadvantaged.
“What we are doing is, I believe is, the path to the long term viability of that agency,” said Gov. Scott on March 31st.
The Agency for Persons with Disabilities is 170 million dollars in the hole. To make up the deficit the governor ordered a cut to the money the agency gives service providers by 15 percent.
The cuts were immediately met with pushback from providers like Patricia Potter, who says her agency that serves 49 mentally and physically challenged adults would have to cut programs and staff.
“The cut will take us so low that it’s hard to do overhead and pay for liability insurance and people don’t want to work for minimum wage,” said Potter.
Scott missed a rally last week where Patricia and hundreds more asked for the money to be restored, but Tuesday he faced his decision head-on.
Scott spoke to employees at the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. He says he’ll restore the money if the legislature can find it in the budget.
“If they provide us the funding then we will withdraw the executive order and we will be able to go back to the rates we are paying providers,” said Scott.
Now many service providers and the disabled have turned to legislature hoping for a sympathetic ear. The House has money in its budget to restore the cuts. The Senate is moving that direction, as the two chambers meet in conference to try and come up with a unified spending plan.