Problems stemming from state budget cuts were on the minds of several representatives of local organizations Wednesday as they met with Douglas County legislators to talk about the needs of the community in preparation for the 2011 legislative session.
Mitzi McFatrich, executive director of Kansas Advocates for Better Care, asked for adequate funding to avoid larger waiting lists for care to those with disabilities and the elderly.
“I realize I’m preaching to the choir,” McFatrich said.
Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, who coordinated the meeting, answered, saying, “That’s all right because it’s the choir that gets the message out.”
Representatives from nearly 20 groups met with legislators at the Lawrence school district administration building, 110 McDonald Dr. The legislative session starts Monday.
Attending the meeting were Sens. Marci Francisco, D-Lawrence, and Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City; and Reps. Ballard, Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, and Paul Davis, D-Lawrence; and Rep.-elect TerriLois Gregory, R-Baldwin City.
Overall state funding has been slashed by approximately $1 billion during the past two years as tax revenues fell during the recession. That has affected services provided on the local level.
Stacey Hunter-Schwartz, executive director of Independence Inc., said the agency, which helps those with disabilities, has had to become much more dependent on volunteers.
But with the state still facing an estimated $550 million budget deficit, Hunter-Schwartz said it was probably unrealistic to expect a funding increase.
“Please, just don’t cut it anymore,” she said.