Topeka — Advocates for low-income Kansans with disabilities on Thursday sought increased state funding to provide services to 1,200 people on waiting lists.
In preparing for the 2006 legislative session that starts in January, the Big Tent Coalition also recommended changes in state law to ensure more people receive assistance in the community instead of going to nursing homes.
"By giving individuals choice, it has also meant that we have increased the number of persons who are working and independent taxpayers," said Shannon Jones, a spokeswoman for the coalition.
The coalition is requesting a $29.5 million increase in funding for a number of programs that serve the elderly, disabled, low-income families, and abused women.
The request includes $10.3 million to 1,200 Kansans with developmental disabilities who are on a waiting list for home- and community-based assistance. Currently, about 6,000 Kansans with developmental disabilities receive this assistance.
Hal Schultz, of Lawrence, who receives community-based assistance, said the help has been crucial to him.
"Having access to services has changed my life," said Schultz, who works at the Self Advocate Coalition of Kansas. "I have a happy, full life."
Teresa Mitchell, executive director of Trinity In-Home Care in Lawrence, said additional funds were needed to increase the pay of caregivers, who earn about $7.50 per hour.
"We can't pay people enough to keep the job," Mitchell said.
Coalition representatives thanked Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for past support and asked her to propose its package to lawmakers.
Nicole Corcoran, a spokeswoman for Sebelius, said she would consider the requests.
"The budget process is coming, and we will consider this as well as other pieces that come forward," Corcoran said.