Corbett: More funding to aid intellectually disabled

Posted: January 31, 2014

Visiting Philadelphia and Montgomery County on Wednesday, Gov. Corbett made a pitch to increase funding for programs for adults with intellectual disabilities.

Corbett said he would ask the legislature for $22.4 million more for programs that serve the intellectually disabled, offering a preview of his forthcoming budget during a stop in North Philadelphia.

The increase would provide in-home and community support services for an additional 1,100 people with intellectual disabilities, whittling a long waiting list, Corbett said.

He made the announcement at the Salvation Army Kroc Center in Nicetown.

"It is what we're supposed to do," Corbett said. "We're a commonwealth - if you go back to William Penn's time, we're a 'holy experiment,' and if this isn't a holy cause, I don't know what is. . . . We're supposed to raise up everybody."

In last year's budget, Corbett proposed a $20 million increase in services for the intellectually disabled, and the legislature passed it. About 14,000 people remain on a waiting list for services, state officials say. Corbett urged advocates and families in the audience to "be a loud voice" for the proposal in Harrisburg.

He reiterated that call Wednesday night at the Rotary Club's regional leadership dinner in Whitpain.

"Care is expensive. But to me, the one thing as a government that we need to do is take care of those who cannot, cannot take care of themselves," Corbett said, drawing applause from the community service group.

Corbett said reducing the waiting list for people with severe disabilities must take a higher priority than education and other government services.

Barbara Dearnley, a retired teacher from Maple Glen, said she agreed with Corbett's assessment that the state already spends a lot of money on education. But she said she was happy to hear him praise the value of investing in prekindergarten.

Corbett's message also hit home with Michele Firth, whose husband is president of Jenkintown's Rotary Club.

"We all know someone who needs help. These people cannot help themselves," she said, adding: "We already have a lot going toward education."

Aside from Wednesday's announcement, and a proposal last week to increase funding to combat domestic violence by 10 percent, Corbett has released few previews of his 2014-15 budget. He is scheduled to present the proposed budget on Tuesday.


jparks@philly.com@JS_Parks 610-313-8117 www.inquirer.com/MontcoMemo

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