There is no question that our state is experiencing some of the most difficult financial times ever. Accordingly, the need to examine service funding reductions and new sources of revenue is certainly now needed. But, as our elected officials proceed with this difficult, but required process, can we ask them that they use the same rationale for making cuts in human services as they would in any other area as well as rationale for spending government dollars?
We know how the proposed cuts will impact people living with a developmental disability. Quite frankly, if not adjusted as presently approved by the House Appropriation Subcommittee, the cuts will be devastating to people living with developmental disabilities and their families.
But, how do we see the value in spending close to a billion dollars to rebuild the airport facilities and runways in Raleigh, but have to cut $1.9 billion in funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)?
How is it that we approve of giving tax incentives to Apple computers which will now build a plant in North Carolina and hire possibly 100 or so people, but if we go ahead with the proposed cuts in the DHHS budget, we might end up eliminating close to 60,000 jobs statewide?
How come we see the merit in using government funds to build sports stadiums with sky boxes that more often than not the poor can’t afford, but can never find the money to build more group homes for people with developmental disabilities?
How can we find money to repair and build new roads, but not always repair the life of a human being? And, do we want to be a state where we can find money to purchase Grandfather Mountain and the beauty around it, but have to tell an innocent child that he or she can’t get needed health care?
To me, and many of us, the issue is priorities. North Carolina’s pride is our ability to come together to help each other in times of crisis and pain. Today, far too many are suffering and need our neighborly attention and help.
Let’s change the discussion on what we can do to what we should do as a state full of wonderful and caring people. And let’s applaud and thank and make sure to support the courage of those elected officials who challenge us to work together to get thru this difficult time. In the end,when all is said and done, the history books will examine us not if we raised or didn’t raise taxes, but rather, I hope, on if we as a state conquered the difficult but required challenge of helping our neighbors and those in need thru these difficult times.
I remain highly optimistic that we can accomplish this important and required societal value. What do you think?
Chief Executive Officer, Autism Society of North Carolina