Pennsylvania has 15,000 people with intellectual disabilities on a waiting list for individualized services, including transportation and assisted living.
Today, Governor Tom Corbett announced he will include $20 million in his proposed budget to shorten the line.
Billy Keogh, who is 33 and autistic, lost both of his parents unexpectedly late last year. Since the passing of his primary care-givers, he has travelled between the homes of other relatives, said aunt Connie Mulhern after the announcement.
“You know you could really blossom and have friends and all sorts of new things that you haven’t experienced,” Mulhern said.
Keogh assented. The funding the governor will add to the budget would pay for services for people like Keogh who have outlived their elderly caregivers or graduated from programs for young people and have no place to go.
In a taste of battles to come, Governor Corbett indicated his new budget would include more “reprioritizing.”
While acknowledging heavy criticism he drew last year for eliminating the state’s general assistance program, which provided cash grants to 67,000 people. “These people deserve to be first in line, and that’s what we’re trying to work at,” said the governor.
Corbett emphasized that the population of intellectually disabled adults that would benefit from the additional funding cannot support themselves.
He asked for support from the Pennsylvania state legislature. The $20 million would shorten the waiting list by 1,200 people, which is less than ten percent. The governor said he would like to see it eliminated, setting a rough target of the end of his time in office.