The developmental disability community in California achieved a huge victory in 2016 in the form of ABX2-1. After years of rallying, visiting, testifying, calling, and writing to our legislators, this desperately needed bill was finally created and passed.
My daughter Valerie and I participated in these efforts by visiting our representatives locally and in Sacramento, by testifying at Health & Human Services committee hearings, by attending rallies and protests, and by calling and writing regularly.
I started this blog – Valerie’s Week in Review – writing to Governor Jerry Brown every week. Along with my letters, I sent a report on Valerie’s life and how the years and years of budget cuts impacted her life every day.
The system had been subject to over a decade of brutal cuts. People were without programs, housing, transportation and employment support. The general fund was robust, but the Governor would not allocate any funds, leaving it instead to the legislature.
The disability community was loud and persistent. We kept coming back. During HHS hearings the line for public comment typically went all the way around the room and out the door.
It worked. Senators and Assembly Members heard us and really understood the needs. They worked to craft a bill, and the necessary 2/3 majority passed it. Democrats and Republicans voted to save our services.
I learned that each and all of our voices matter. I learned that we can really make change happen. And I learned that Democrats and Republicans can work together for the good of the state and its citizens.
That doesn’t seem to be happening now in our country. Our president and the majority of Congress support policies that will be devastating to people with disabilities, and they have demonstrated an alarming lack of respect for differences.
We need to stay strong. We need to speak up and to keep speaking up. All of our voices are needed. Please visit our Get Involved page for some great suggestions on ways to get active and links to reliable information and current actions.