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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Consequences of Cuts

The Spartanburg Herald Journal reports on service cuts in South Carolina:

Tammy Gilbert might have to make a choice no parent should: Does the Spartanburg mother give up her child or does she quit working so she can take care of her daughter?

State budget cuts to Medicaid and other programs are forcing those kinds of choices on Gilbert and, she said, thousands of other South Carolina families. Gilbert's daughter, Paige Lynn Taylor, has autism, mental retardation and cerebral palsy.

“I am here to ask you to protect her as the 7-year-old her mind is, not the 21-year-old her body is,” Gilbert said Wednesday before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health and Human Services.


More than 120 children and adults with mental or physical disabilities sat before the House subcommittee Wednesday. McCarthy Teszler School Principal Cheryl Revels, who has two special-needs children of her own, and Charles Lea Center Executive Director Jerry Bernard also testified, saying services that directly affect the lives of people with disabilities are, in fact, essential.

“In the long run, we are not saving money,” Revels said. “The children are not going to have the opportunity to develop skills necessary to be independent individuals of society. And we will be paying for them down the road.”

Revels pleaded with the four legislators in front of her — state Reps. Brian White, Harry Ott and Bill Herbkersman of the subcommittee, and Rep. Harold Mitchell of Spartanburg. Mitchell helped arrange the visit.

“It's real good for my colleagues to see the faces of the cuts that they're making,” Mitchell said in an interview.


“One of our biggest challenges, with the budget, with all the demands we have and the mandates, is taking care of the vulnerable folks that we have,” said White, an Anderson Republican and subcommittee chairman. “I don't think it's the intention of anybody to not fill that need. It is truly a need, and they are blessed children. They are God's creation, and we need to take care of them.”

About 31,000 South Carolinians depend on Medicaid and the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, Revels said.