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Lackey wants more funds for disabled community

OW Staff Writer | 12/18/2015, midnight | Updated on 12/18/2015, midnight
As part of a statewide “day-of-action,” Assemblyman Tom Lackey

As part of a statewide “day-of-action,” Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) and hundreds of activists converged recently at Desert Haven Enterprise in Lancaster to call on Gov. Jerry Brown to increase funding for persons with developmental disabilities.

Lackey was joined by former UCLA and LA. Rams runningback Wendell Tyler whose son receives services through state-funded programs.

Lackey said more than 270,000 Californians with disabilities seek services from state-funded centers which allow them to live independently via community-based programs.

“These are truly some of the most deserving individuals in our state, and California owes it to them to keep the promise we made to them,” Lackey said. “However, after years of neglect and failing to make funding a priority, the state has failed to keep that promise.”

When California was in the middle of a budget crisis, there were extensive cuts to funding for programs and services to the developmentally disabled community. Lackey explained that these cuts forced thousands of families to “scramble to find” the care necessary for loved ones with developmental disabilities as programs were shut down.

Tyler said his family struggles daily to supply necessary services for his son.

“As we have seen a decline in the programs and support provided by the state, the challenge of meeting my son’s needs have become tremendous,” Tyler said. “He is fortunate to have family support to fall back on, but not all the individuals receiving these services have that luxury.”

Advocates for the state’s developmentally disabled population have called for a 10-percent increase in funding for regional centers, but Brown reportedly did not include a funding increase in the 2015-16 budget. Lackey said the decision was made “... despite a $7.5 billion increase in overall spending.” Programs that offer paratransit services, day and work programs, supported employment, and supported living services are part of the budget set aside for the developmentally disabled community.