I just returned from my monthly trip to Springfield, but this trip left me feeling surprised at what I heard. For social service agencies like Clearbrook that serve people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the biggest government issue facing us is whether or not the temporary tax increase will be extended and made permanent.
As the minority, Republicans have decided to stay out of this important statewide discussion, therefore leaving the total decision to Democrats. Republicans also claim the need for the tax extension isn't necessary because there is no money in the budget and that draconian cuts to programs for people with disabilities is a smoke screen. The state budget director and governor claim the opposite. Caught in the middle are families and individuals who need services and the staff who provide these services.
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There is an underlying issue of waste in government, but that needs to be addressed by our elected officials. The message here is that legislators work for us and are custodians of taxpayers' hard-earned money. However, once again, the most vulnerable are the pawns having to beg to protect programs. Also lost in this is that programs are not abstract and 70 percent of money service providers receive goes directly to programs.
These services are as real as the staff who respond to their needs. People with disabilities, families, staff and service providers cannot continue to be pawns in the political game being played in Springfield. That is not what our representatives were elected to do. They ran for office to represent us, and this is why they were elected!
We, the people of every district, need to send a message to our elected representatives and senators to make the temporary tax increase permanent. We cannot do this alone. We need your help to contact your legislator today. This is not a matter of party affiliation or politics -- this is a matter of people!
Carl M. La Mell