- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 20, 2009

ANNAPOLIS | Fear of Maryland’s next round of budget cuts brought about 200 developmentally disabled people and workers who assist them to rally Wednesday against cuts to state services.

The rally next to the governor’s home and the Maryland State House was held a week before the Board of Public Works is scheduled to make about $470 million in spending reductions.

Residents with Down syndrome and cerebral palsy rallied with their family members on a hot summer afternoon, holding signs and chanting “No More Cuts” and “Save Our Services.”

Supporters say potential cuts to the Developmental Disability Administration could further the wait for thousands on a state-approved waiting list to receive services, even though some already have been waiting for a decade. More than 19,000 people are on the list to receive residential and day program services.

“Any further cuts can and will jeopardize their well-being as well as the well-being of those who chose to be their caregivers,” said Stephanie Maskovyak, whose 24-year-old daughter Anne Kirby is developmentally disabled.

Advocates say the cuts could create a variety of problems, including deteriorating conditions in group homes in local communities and even shuttering entire programs.

Supporters also are fearful that potential budget cuts could widen disparities in pay for people who help the disabled in their communities, compared to people who work in state institutions.

Gov. Martin O’Malley is scheduled to submit about $470 million in budget cuts to the Board of Public Works next week to help address a serious shortfall. While about $250 million will come from state aid to local governments, the administration says the rest will come from state agencies and compensation for state workers, including an unspecified number of furlough days.

It will be the sixth time the board has made budget cuts during Mr. O’Malley’s tenure. The administration has not yet outlined where cuts in state agencies will come from.

More than 22,000 adults and children receive community-based services in Maryland, according to the Maryland Developmental Disabilities Coalition.

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