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Archive for Friday, December 14, 2001

Developmental disabilities group seeks to make financial needs known

December 14, 2001

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With a tight state budget looming, service organizations and interest groups from across Kansas will be lobbying the Legislature harder than ever for funding.

Not only will lawmakers have to be creative in their search for new sources of money, but groups, including the developmental disabilities community, will have to make creative appeals.

"Don't just talk about the numbers. Tell them your story," State Rep. Troy Findley, D.-Lawrence, told members of the Arc of Douglas County Thursday night.

"Make that extra emotional appeal to the legislators," he said.

Findley, a member of the Arc board, spoke at the nonprofit organization's annual general membership meeting about how to talk to legislators about the needs of the disabled community during tight budget times.

Findley was joined by Kim Miller, associate director of InterHab, a resource network for Kansans with disabilities, and Kathy Lobb, of the Self-Advocate Coalition of Kansas.

"Money is tight across the state this year," Miller said. "That doesn't matter to us. We're still going to ask for more."

She said InterHab had a waiting list of 400 people with disabilities who need crucial services as well as a list of 700 other people it considers underserved.

Lobb said a tax increase, though unattractive, might be necessary to ensure that the needs of Kansans with disabilities are met.

She invited people to attend a rally on Jan. 14, opening day of the 2002 legislative session, during which advocates will march to the Capitol to oppose cutting state-aid money.

"We can't let legislators forget about us back in our communities," she said.

Findley said legislators this session are going to have to recognize every viable option for squeezing dollars out of the budget. Possibilities include expanding gaming, re-assessing past tax cuts, tapping into "rainy day" funds and finding ways to make government run more efficiently, he said.

Findley suggested that advocates for people with disabilities keep in close contact with lawmakers, especially members of the House appropriations committee and the Senate ways and means committee.

The Arc provides advocacy, education and leadership for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

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