Council 8 leaders weigh in on proposed state budget

Ohio Council 8 leaders met face-to-face with law makers to express their concerns and explain the consequences of enacting parts of Ohio’s proposed biennial budget.

Topping the list is the proposed budget’s threat to developmental disability treatment options for individuals and families by fundamentally chaining the way services are delivered.

The proposed state spending plan will eliminate highly specialized state, county, and local residential programs and workshops in favor of home community-based treatment.

“That will limit choice of treatment options for individuals and their families. No family should be forced to choose between a ‘bad’ or a ‘worse’ situation for their loved one,” said AFSCME Local 3794 President Sandy Coutcher, in testimony before the Ohio House Finance Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.

Coutcher, representing more than 425 professional, technical, and support staff at the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities, said one size doesn’t fit all and without home community-based settings – “and local residential and workshop programs, there can be no real choice.” CLICK HERE FOR FULL TESTIMONY

That message was forceful repeated by a stream of individuals and parents. Some parents brought their children and adult sons and daughters to the packed hearing room to relate their personal experiences to the committee members.

The overwhelming message was clear – that an exclusively community-based setting, or exclusively residential setting, does not guarantee an individual will have a better quality of life. “It all depends on having a real choice so individuals and their families can find the system that best serves their needs,” said Robert Davis, AFSCME Ohio Council 8’s Political and Legislative Director.

In addition to Coutcher and Davis, Sally Tyler, a senior health care policy analyst for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, testified on behalf of AFSCME Ohio Council 8, OCSEA/AFSCME Local 11 and OAPSE/AFSCME Local 4.

“Each of these AFSCME councils and local unions represents members, at either the state or county level, who provide services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and they would be severely harmed by the proposed budget,” Tyler said. CLICK HERE FOR FULL TESTIMONY

Committee members also heard from OCSEA/AFSCME Local 11 members from the Montgomery and Youngstown Developmental Centers that are slated for closure. They called on legislators to keep the doors open of the two state facilities where severely developmentally disabled individuals reside. They were joined by individuals and families who praised the institutions and said they offered the best environment for their loved one.

It’s not too late to change the direction of the state spending plan for developmental disability services. CLICK HERE TO TAKE ACTION

In addition, AFSCME Local 1360 Akron City Employees President George Johnson offered testimony on House Bill 53, the proposed transportation budget.

At Issue is a proposal to hire and train a specific percentage of Akron city residents who will work on a decade-long, billion dollar sewer improvement project.

“House Bill 53 prohibits municipalities establishing an employment residency requirement for large scale projects like this one,” Johnson said.

The project, which is not funded by federal or state dollars, is being paid for by the citizens of Akron. Guaranteeing that a significant percentage of these jobs will go to the city residents will reduce the project’s financial burden and turn it into an investment in the community, Johnson told the committee.

“Since the city residents are paying for the project, it only seems fair to keep as much of that money in the city as possible,” he said. CLICK HERE FOR FULL TESTIMONY

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