Advocates fire off pre-emptve suit over planned Pa. cuts to DPW services

    When is it too soon for a lawsuit over budget cuts? Advocates for those with intellectual disabilities aren’t waiting for Pennsylvania budget negotiations to wrap up — or even, really, begin.

    The Disability Rights Network sued Gov. Tom Corbett and the Department of Public Welfare last week over the specter of getting less money.

    The group objects to the governor’s proposal to change the way programs for the mentally ill are funded, and to cut that funding by 20 percent or $168 million.

    The DPW responded by saying the lawsuit was premature, and frivolous.

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    But Mark Murphy, who heads the group behind the lawsuit, said it’s intended to put an end to repeated budget proposals that lowball the funding counties need to provide mental health services.

    “This repeated under-requesting, if you will, not sufficient dollars and then the Legislature doesn’t give enough money and then this problem compounds and compounds and compounds,” he said on the WITF program “Radio Smart Talk.”

    Murphy says even under-requesting money violates existing state law on how the DPW must provide mental health services.

    He acknowledges the lawsuit is an advocacy strategy, akin to sending letters or news releases.

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