Topeka Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration said Thursday it was abandoning its efforts, at least for now, to shut down the Kansas Neurological Institute.
The issue came up in a brief exchange during a meeting of the House-Senate Committee on State Building Construction.
SRS officials came before the committee to discuss the agency’s capital improvement plan and answer questions about the recent closings of several agency offices.
Rep. Bob Grant, D-Cherokee, asked what happened to Brownback’s proposal to close KNI, a state hospital for people with profound disabilities.
During the last legislative session, Brownback had sought to shut down the facility as one of many cost-cutting moves in the face of what was then an estimated $500 million state budget gap. A bi-partisan group of legislators, however, rejected the proposal.
“The Legislature has spoken on that issue,” said Gary Haulmark, director of legislative affairs for SRS. He said that in conversations with the governor’s office, Brownback’s staff indicated no effort would be made this year on that front.
Grant said, “I just wanted to see if our voice was heard.” Haulmark answered, “It was.”
KNI, which is in Topeka, has about 155 residents.
Some disability rights groups have argued that moving residents to more community-based group homes would improve their quality of life, and that shutting down the facility would free up funds for other people with disabilities who are on waiting lists.
But supporters of KNI say the residents couldn’t get the same quality of care in community-based groups that they now receive.