To the editor:
In an Associated Press article, a spokesperson for Gov. Bill Graves stated that to his knowledge there is no waiting list for people with physical disabilities receiving in-home attendant services through the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS) Home and Community Based Services program. The truth is that the waiting list began on July 1. SRS sent information to the Kansas Association of Centers for Independent Living (KACIL) and the Centers for Independent Living a few days in advance indicating the waiting list would begin on July 1.
Gina McDonald, KACIL president, had been meeting with Duane Goosen from the governor's office and SRS staff since January to discuss the fact that a waiting list would occur. Further, KACIL, SRS and many people with disabilities testified during the legislative session that without additional funding in the SRS budget, a waiting list would be inevitable.
Sen. Marge Petty offered an amendment during the last days of the Senate budget battle to allow for enough funding to avoid a waiting list. That amendment was defeated with most Democrats voting for and most Republicans voting against
So you can appreciate my anger to hear that there is no waiting list, and especially that the governor's office was unaware of the possibility. This statement comes just days after the governor announced the unexpected increase in revenues. But that money appears to be targeted for highways, not people.
What really concerns me is that citizens of this state are unaware that the budget cuts from two years ago are impacting the ability for this state to care for people with disabilities and people who are aging. Unfortunately, the citizens of this state will only realize that when they have an accident, or illness and they find that it doesn't matter that they have paid taxes all their lives, they will be on a waiting list.
The truth is that the governor and the legislature added additional dollars for SRS Home and Community Based Services this year. But they knew it would not be enough to avoid a waiting list. They know that they were offering only two options: to wait on a list for services or go to a nursing facility where the state will pay for services no matter how much they cost.
The truth is there is funding today, it just needs to be moved from the institutions to the community. The governor and his staff know that, and so did Marge Petty and Sen. Hensley when they tried to get us the funding.
Ann Branden, Lawrence,