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Disability Cuts

They're blaming the crisis on a $27 million budget shortfall.

Hundreds of people with developmental disabilities and their caregivers rallied outside the State Department of Children and Families this fall. They begged Secretary Jerry Regier to plug a $27 million budget shortfall so they wouldn't be kicked out of their group homes.

It's a promise he hasn't been able to keep. Case Manager Polly Yates says thanks to the budget snafu, she now has a half-dozen clients who have to find a new place to live.

“We were told we've got to shut this house down and how there's not a choice here. The choice then becomes where do you move, not do you move,” Yates says.

Across the state, advocates say more than 1,000 people with disabilities are losing their group homes or services like daycare.

But state officials say the $27 million cut isn't really a cut. Jeb Bush says what some people are calling a crisis is being blown out of proportion.

The governor says the state is actually putting more money into care for people with disabilities and trying to equalize the rates it pays the care providers.

“To scare the clients, as some may be, maybe that wasn't their intention, but I think that's what's happened, is unfortunate,” explains Gov. Bush.

Either way you look at it, the Office of Public Guardian's Karen Campbell says peoples' lives are being turned upside-down.

“Moving someone from familiar surroundings, familiar routines, familiar people, especially when they don't have the same coping mechanisms we have can really impact their health,” Campbell explains.

She predicts some of the disabled people caught in the state's budget crunch may not survive.

State Rep. Ken Gottlieb of Miramar is calling for a special legislative session to plug the $27 million budget gap.

Gov. Jeb Bush says it won't happen.


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