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Disability advocates are calling on the House and Senate to disavow $150 million in proposed cuts to health and human services funding. Those cuts were part of budget targets released by the DFL majorities prior to leaving for Passover/Easter break.

Disability advocates protest proposed HHS cuts

Bruce Nelson, ARRM

Disability advocates are calling on the House and Senate to disavow $150 million in proposed cuts to health and human services funding. Those cuts were part of budget targets released by the DFL majorities prior to leaving for Passover/Easter break.

“They’ve left people with disabilities and the elderly out in the cold,” said Bruce Nelson, executive director of ARRM, an association that primarily represents organizations that run group homes for people with disabilities, at a press conference on Tuesday. “They go backwards.”

ARRM and its allies brought dozens of individuals with mental and physical disabilities to the Capitol to protest the proposed cuts. Disability advocates point out that between 2007 and 2011 provider rates dropped by 0.1 percent, while inflation increased by 9.9 percent. In addition, they note that the average wage for personal care assistants is just $11.31 an hour.

Sam Subah, who has worked as a caregiver at Dakota Communities for nearly two decades, said that he works three jobs to support his family. “We stay because we do love what we do,” Subah said at the press conference. “It’s very, very difficult to turn your back and walk away.”

Nelson also expressed concern about how other proposals being pushed by the DFL majorities — specifically a plan to allow personal care assistants to unionize and an increase in the minimum wage — could further affect his group’s members. “We’re not going away,” Nelson said. “We’re going to keep at it and at it and at it.”

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