Misplaced priorities

Fairfax County and the Commonwealth of Virginia have cut funding to the disabled community.

In Fairfax County, about 60 mentally disabled students who age out of school this year will not be funded for supported employment after June.  It would cost about $1M to provide this service.  But the Community Services Board, which runs the program, has been told to cut $3M.  Some who are currently in the program will be dropped.

Supported day-care services are being cut.  Mental health and substance abuse services are being cut.

But it’s okay.  The governor thinks this way (from a 23 June news release):

But, we haven’t let our short-term challenges block our progress toward a better Virginia.  Working together—Democrat and Republican, House and Senate—we have transformed the delivery of mental health services, advanced an ambitious effort to improve service to troubled youngsters through foster care reform and agreed upon the most significant capital investment in higher education in the Commonwealth’s history.

Our focus on measurable progress—even in a challenging time—recently led Governing magazine to recognize Virginia, once again, as the top performing state government in America.

We know there remains an important issue before us in 2008—an issue that calls on our best thinking to find common ground in moving Virginia forward.   We must find reliable investments for a 21st century transportation system in our Commonwealth.  We have worked to find that solution for many years, but definitive action has eluded us.  The special session I have called today gives us the opportunity to get this right.

On June 25, he provided this (emphasis mine):

Governor Timothy M. Kaine today announced grants worth $39,954,021 have been awarded to support criminal justice programs and services throughout the Commonwealth.

“These grants will enable localities and state agencies to support new and continuing programs addressing a wide range of criminal justice needs and issues across the Commonwealth,” stated Governor Kaine. “They demonstrate the strong commitment of Virginia’s localities and state agencies to assuring that our criminal justice system is effective and responsive.”

The money for the grants comes from federal funds allocated to Virginia and state funds appropriated by the General Assembly. The Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) administers the grant programs. DCJS’ Criminal Justice Services Board (CJSB), the policy board appointed by the Governor to act on matters affecting the criminal justice system in Virginia, reviewed and approved them.

“These grants will specifically fund sexual assault programs; criminal justice system improvements; victim witness and sexual assault programs; school resource officers; campus safety programs, crime prevention programs, offender reentry transitional services; residential substance abuse programs; comprehensive community corrections programs; and juvenile delinquency prevention programs,” stated DCJS Director Leonard G. Cooke.

In total 295 grants were approved and awarded to 16 state agencies and 279 non-profit agencies, localities and colleges. A list of the grants is available here:

http://www.dcjs.virginia.gov/about/documents/CJSBGrants2008.pdf .

You can learn about what services you can’t receive, on the web:

RICHMOND – Governor Timothy M. Kaine today announced an on-line resource especially designed for seniors and adults with disabilities.

Virginia Easy Access, presented by the Virginia Department for the Aging, is part of the Commonwealth’s No Wrong Door initiative. No Wrong Door offers individuals a simple, single point of entry for information on long-term support options, applications for benefits and other supportive programs. It also provides a secure web-based system that connects state and local public agencies, private organizations and providers, allowing consumer information to be shared in a confidential manner and improving coordination of long-term care services.

“The new Virginia Easy Access website is a technology solution for seniors and adults with disabilities throughout the Commonwealth who need assistance with finding services,” Governor Kaine said. “The website is easy to use and will assist caregivers as well as people who need care.”

Virginia Easy Access provides individuals and caregivers information about public benefits and programs and includes a variety of informative topics of interest to seniors and adults with disabilities. This website allows people to search for specific services in each community. Content includes imbedded links that lead the user to more information on every topic.

Virginia Easy Access is also a gateway to VirginiaNavigator, a listing of more than 21,000 programs and services across the Commonwealth powered by SeniorNavigator. The provider database is constantly updated to make available the most comprehensive listing of services and supports in the Commonwealth.

Supported by 2-1-1 Virginia Call Center Operators, citizens may utilize Virginia Easy Access to e-mail questions and receive assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Beginning in the Fall of 2008, Virginia Easy Access will enable citizens to complete a Medicaid application on-line and electronically submit it directly to the appropriate local social services agency for processing.

Other things get funded (Sept 2, 2008, again, emphasis mine):

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine today announced that Virginia has allocated $23.4 million in State Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGOP) funds to localities across the Commonwealth.

Funded projects include:

Law Enforcement Operations ($9,279,000) – Expands and completes a statewide system that provides law enforcement agencies with secure access to regional crime data and counter-terrorism tools. In addition, funding will provide equipment and training to police and fire departments for regionally managed bomb squad responses.

Enhanced Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive Devices Capabilities ($1,700,000) – Funds new equipment and vehicles to detect and monitor weapons of mass destruction and to respond to structure building collapses. This funding will also replenish, replace and upgrade existing equipment as needed for the state’s nine Hazardous Materials Officers, 24 hazardous materials/WMD teams and seven Heavy Technical Rescue Teams, which are locally based and work together at the regional level.

Statewide Shelter Planning and Enhancement ($2,270,000) – Continues work in preparing state shelters for a mass evacuation by installing proper wiring connections for generators; modifying shelters to comply with the Americans with Disability Act for Special Medical Needs populations; purchasing Web-based software to register, track and reunify families; and other software, training and supplies for shelters throughout the state.

Critical Infrastructure ($1,520,000) – Funds the development of a standardized smart card identity system called the First Responder Authentication Credential, or FRAC card, for emergency responders to gain access to a disaster area. (Because I’m sure there will be someone there checking ID.)

Emergency Medical Services ($1,391,100) – Supports the transition to the new Emergency Patient and Resource Registry, a secured online patient database that will track the location of each patient from disaster site to hospital.

Citizen Preparedness ($1,581,501) – Funds training and educating the general population and vulnerable populations as well as typing and credentialing volunteer resources.

Other funded projects will support interoperability improvement; expanding the Metropolitan Medical Response System; exercises and training; and planning and assessment.

County supervisors are no less culpable.  They supported this initiative, and on election day, 2008, in “Fairfax County, voters approved $77 million in parks bonds, which, among other things, will fund artificial-turf ballfields, the restoration of wetlands and a small observatory for gazing at the stars. (My highest priorities – aren’t they yours?)

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth and County are ignoring young adults they’ve spent 18-20 years training to be productive members of society.  These students can’t, for the most part, hold competitive jobs.  They need assistance.  They perform office, kitchen, landscaping, janitorial, automotive, and other tasks, and they love going to work every day.  For $1M/year.  Out of a budget of over $3 BILLION.  (Budget info available here.)  But then, their strategic priorities don’t include people:

  • Strong investment in education
  • Public safety and gang prevention
  • Affordable housing
  • Environmental protection
  • Transportation improvements
  • Revenue diversification to reduce the burden on the homeowner

I’ll be going on the 13th (7-9:30PM, Mason Government Center, Annandale) to plead my case.  How artificial turf can be prioritized over citizens, I’ll never know.  But I need to be heard.

Published in: on November 5, 2008 at 9:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

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