While Gov. Martin O'Malley has shown leadership in addressing issues of importance to the developmental disabilities community, he is now considering state budget cuts for the fiscal year totaling some $250 million ("State weighs cuts in critical needs," Oct. 9). Among those is eliminating a 1.2 percent rise in the state's reimbursement rate for community-based developmental disabilities programs.
While everyone undoubtedly will bear some of the burden of the budget cuts, the developmental disabilities community is particularly vulnerable because of years of underfunding.
Children and adults with significant developmental disabilities throughout Maryland need essential services - from in-home support and employment programs to respite care and transportation - to remain with their families and in their communities. But since those services have never been funded adequately in Maryland, individuals with developmental disabilities and their families repeatedly have been placed on a waiting list for community-based services. And today, that list has grown to crisis proportions. More than 18,000 people are waiting for such services, and more than half are considered to be in crisis. These children and adults are in serious jeopardy.
Moreover, one in three providers of services to people with developmental disabilities lost money on state-funded programs in fiscal 2007. Many nonprofit groups are struggling to continue to provide supports. Action is needed. Families can't wait much longer for essential services.
Although the economy generally is struggling, Maryland is the wealthiest state in the nation, and it must find a way to provide resources for our citizens most in need.
Stephen H. Morgan, Baltimore
The writer is executive director of the Arc of Baltimore.
Gov. Martin O'Malley has threatened to make deep cuts to the state police, health care and education services in Maryland.
He is showing his true priorities here.
If Mr. O'Malley is interested in cutting the state budget, he should start by cutting funding to organizations such as Casa de Maryland that aid illegal immigrants in this state, and thus cause an additional drain on our economy.
Marylanders have suffered the largest tax increases in state history, and the state budget is still out of control. Now is the time for Mr. O'Malley's actions to match his rhetoric and truly protect our priorities by pursuing real budget reductions in a wide swath of Cabinet departments, not balance the budget on the backs of our law enforcement agencies and our schools.
Al Eisner, Wheaton
Gov. Martin O'Malley should start from the top down with administrators when doling out furlough days for state employees; this would save more money and cut waste.
He should leave the rank-and-file state employees alone, those who sacrifice the best earnings years of their lives to work for the state.
Jeri Delambo, Baltimore
The writer is a retired state employee.