Karen Polito Posturing at the expense of the Disabled?

 It's now up to Karen Polito to get to Tuesday's session on time and stand up to say that she accepts and appreciates the good work done by her colleagues in the Senate and announce that she will vote for the final passage of the budget in House. And make my colleagues –families who share the care of their disabled members with state funded programs — very much relieved. 

As Mike Hyland, vice president of programs at the Kennedy-Donovan Center Inc., which offers advocacy and services to people with developmental disabilities. Programs based in New Bedford include a school, day habilitation and early intervention in the South Coast Today said yesterday (Italics mine)

Representative Karyn Polito's (R-Shrewsbury) recent efforts to prevent the passage of a $400 million spending bill primarily comprised of one-time federal stimulus dollars should serve as a warning of the dangers of political grandstanding. Although the bill provides for crucial services to the most vulnerable citizens of the commonwealth and has the support of Republican leadership in the House, Polito worked at every turn to prevent this money from reaching those who truly need it.

She was fully aware that the absence of this funding would cause immediate harm to disabled people and their families by ending employment programs, eliminating residential beds for people needing 24-hour support, and closing day programs. Shelters and police units are also at severe risk without these funds.

Sadly, it appears that Polito's grandstanding was meant to somehow prove that her campaign for treasurer was about protecting taxpayers. Unfortunately, she at no time concerned herself with those who need protection most.

 This represents a very dangerous mix of politics and responsibility. Of course it is always necessary to scrutinize how money is spent and to safeguard the interests of every taxpayer, particularly in these economic times. Yet it is the responsibility of those who participate in government to ensure that people who truly need assistance, through no fault of their own, are protected. Many of these people cannot participate in the electoral process and they and their families must trust that state government will not abandon them simply because they too often cannot be heard.

 

Fortunately our own Republican Senator Tarr, a long time advocate for our disabled family members understands  and in last Friday's session — where he stayed till the end of the session (9:30 pm) — from the State House News in Wicked Local

After adopting a pair of Republican amendments aimed at compelling the Patrick administration to disclose additional budget details, the Senate passed a $420 million supplemental budget that funds surging Medicaid costs and services for the elderly and disabled, shores up the State Police, and is aimed at preventing the closure of corrections facilities.

During a session attended by just two members, Sen. Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) said Republicans never intended to block funding for vital human services programs, but rather hoped to get answers from the Patrick administration about the need for increased spending, just three months into a new budget year.

“We’ve got some answers that have been less than clear,” Tarr told reporters after the session. “There were some accounts that needed to be funded. Some of the human services were going to need this assistance. We weren’t going to stand in the way of providing those needed services.”

Tarr said fluctuating budgets are “not uncommon” in “recessionary times.” He noted that the budget approved by lawmakers and signed by the governor in June anticipated a 3 percent climb in Medicaid rolls, but the rolls actually climbed 5 percent, a big difference in a program that costs billions of dollars.

Although the bill still needs final enactment votes in each branch to reach Gov. Deval Patrick’s desk, Senate President Therese Murray expressed relief that the bill cleared the Senate after days of delays.

“It’s about time,” she said, noting that letters were supposed to go out Friday to alert people of the closure of group homes, the canceling of adult day services and the shutdown of mental health facility beds. At the urging of Senate leaders, she said, the letters weren’t sent.

 

 

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