Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Kulongoski Could Care Less

It’s not just me who realizes that the state plans to balance its budget off the backs of it’s’ most vulnerable citizens. This letter was found in the Estacada News today...

Legislature needs to recognize needs of senior, disabled

The Oregon State Legislature opened their 2009 session earlier this month with what could best be described as overwhelming challenges.

With unemployment at the highest rate in years and tax receipts down, the legislature will have to make choices on which programs to fund.

In the Governor’s Recommended Budget, Ted Kulongoski has supported education, transportation and prisons, all very necessary; however, support for seniors and persons with disabilities have been overlooked or relegated to near the bottom.

We need to look at the overall picture and let our legislators hear from us about funding for senior programs.

Our seniors and people with disabilities never expected to ask help from the state, but life happens. Most of our seniors have worked hard all their lives, but, due to circumstances, are now forced to ask for help; a very humbling experience in itself. With the possibility of 18 percent cuts in their programs, the help they need may not be there.

The proposed 18 percent cuts in the senior and disabled programs tend to be shortsighted, removing low-cost in-home services to those persons who qualify for less than 80 hours of in-home services a month.

Without those services, a certain number of these folks will be forced into long-term care facilities at a much higher cost to the state.

There is also the matter of people recently disabled who apply for Social Security Income. Oregon takes longer than any other state to process and approve individual requests from this demographic of citizens. These folks are unable to work; what are they supposed to do for the average time of two years while the government decides whether or not they qualify?

Oregon had a general assistance program in the past, whereby a relatively small amount of money was loaned to these individuals, allowing them to pay for food and shelter, and was then repaid when their case was approved. This was a no-cost program for the state but was removed from the general fund in the last session of the legislature. This needs to be reinstated.

Please contact your legislator about funding programs for seniors and people with disabilities. For help in contacting your legislator, go to Click on “find your legislator” in the right hand column, fill out your address and click on “submit.”

You will have a complete list of both state and federal legislators and how to reach them. This is something you can do to make a difference without leaving home.

Joseph Lowe
Clackamas County
Joint Advocacy Committee
Disabled Advocates Coalition
Clackamas County Meals On Wheels, Inc.

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