Letters to the Editor

Floridians with developmental disabilities need more help

Gov. Rick Scott stood up in June, in front of 7,000-plus people, and said how he is helping so many more people with developmental disabilities and he put an additional $20 million in the budget to do away with the “critical needs” wait list.

Would you like the truth?

The Medicaid Waiver budget for 2013-14 was $915 million, or $46 million below the 2008 budget. It was actually the third lowest budget in the last six years.

This while the waiting list grew from 15,648 in Sept. 2007 to 21,140 in June 2014.

Now the final straw. The Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) returned approximately $80 million “unspent” from this fiscal year to the state treasury. Yes, you read that correctly. Gov. Scott not only reduced spending, the agency returned unspent money, while 21,000 people are languishing on a waiting list.

The governor refuses to answer questions or diverts his answers to something totally unrelated. But Gov. Scott can’t run from this. These figures are from the websites of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities and Transparency Florida.

How can he justify not spending all the funds available to the most vulnerable residents in our state? He directs his staff to cut funds because of budget shortfalls that didn't exist in 2011. Then he allows the wait list to increase by almost 5,000 people in 2014, all the while taking thousands of families to hearings to deny needed services based on the iBudget rules and an algorithm that the District Court of Appeals threw out as illegal. He included $4.5 million dollars in the APD budget for legal fees to fight families, and those funds go to the law firm that his chief of staff is associated with.

This isn’t supporting people with disabilities. This is a disgrace, and the governor should be ashamed of his actions and those of his staff.

Ven Sequenzia, Jr. , president, Autism Society of America, Orlando