Training center doesn't deserve priority for budget cuts

William Rivera, left, tries to identify a sign with teacher Cathy Iacovone while client Tina Eidson watches at the ARC Nature Coast on May 15. Training drills, Iacovone said, help patients who cannot identify common signs like bathroom designations.

KERI WIGINTON | Times

William Rivera, left, tries to identify a sign with teacher Cathy Iacovone while client Tina Eidson watches at the ARC Nature Coast on May 15. Training drills, Iacovone said, help patients who cannot identify common signs like bathroom designations.

When the economy is shaky and money is tight, taxpayers expect their government to cut costs and make sacrifices, just as they must do. But most probably don't expect their most vulnerable neighbors to absorb the first blows from the budget ax.

We urge Gov. Charlie Crist to keep that in mind as he considers whether to veto a $1.1-million budget appropriation for the Arc Nature Coast in Brooksville. The Legislature has set aside that sum to build a facility near Brooksville, which would be used as a skills training center for adults with developmental disabilities. It would be a mistake to bypass this opportunity to help the deserving clients who now use crowded, and in some areas, rundown, facilities.

While the new 12,000-square-foot facility would be used every day for life-skills education and character enrichment activities, it also would be built sturdy enough to be used as a hurricane shelter that would house hundreds of people with developmental disabilities, as well as their caretakers, during an emergency.

No such dedicated facility exists in Hernando, Pasco, Sumter or Citrus counties, which makes the need for this one even more necessary.

While it is true that the people who would use this facility need special help, they are not a good fit at special needs shelters — of which there also are too few — set aside for those who need medical care. That really limits the options for caretakers of the developmentally disabled and could result in their remaining in harm's way.

Because of their disabilities, Arc clients need, and deserve, special considerations and accommodations, both of which they rely on someone else to provide. In this case, that obligation falls entirely on Gov. Crist and we urge him to allow this very sensible appropriation.

Training center doesn't deserve priority for budget cuts 05/28/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 5:15pm]

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