There is no honor in how the state has disrespected persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities(IDD). Their plight is dire. With the last rescission, the IDD population since 2013 has lost nearly $100 million from its agency — the Department of Developmental Services(DDS).
The IDD community is the state’s least visible minority despite its rich ethnic and racial make-up. Its diversity is never celebrated! The DDS is the state’s fiscal punching bag, its mission to 18,000 clients strangled.
But the marginalizing of the IDD community ignited an historical precedent in 2013 when State Sen. Beth Bye (D), States Rep. John Hampton (D) and Rep. Jay Case (R) formed a bipartisan legislative caucus. With 70 members, the initiative is the first in both state and nation to promote fiscal equality for the embattled IDD minority.
The caucus hasn’t excited the public imagination like the issues of gun regulation and heroin. Yet, it is a steady summons to the sleeping giant of public decency to a real civil rights travesty. IDD persons made no bad life choices. They deserve a life of dignity in their own state! With no big money or votes, they are still citizens and fellow human beings who have much to teach about courage.
There are now 2,000 IDD people waiting for residential placement in a state that has invested millions to end homelessness; supported employment for them is starved for funds while claims are made that 80,000 new jobs have been created here. This is public policy hypocrisy!
It’s time to abolish the cruel and unusual mental agony of IDD families who live each day in an overlooked public health emergency flirting with disaster.
We’ve had enough of putting things before people. “Inclusion” applies also to our IDD population.