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Budget Deal Leaves Many Disability Advocates Encouraged

Posted on Jan 08, 2014

A congressional budget deal recently announced shows the possibility for a reduction in the spending cuts against disability programs, including special education. Now, disability advocates are encouraged by the potential for continued benefits for those in need.

If the budget deal goes through, the bipartisan agreement would lower cuts from the sequestration across-the-board. This would give relief to federally funded programs that benefit disabled people in New England and across the United States.

Kim Hymes, the senior director of policy and advocacy at the Council for Exceptional Children commented that she is very encouraged with the budget deal.

In 2013, $600 million was cut from special education alone. Now, teachers, families, and disability recipients are relieved that the threat of sequestration is not looming over their heads.

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray brokered the deal. In the deal, a new federal budget set for the next two years puts spending at a lower level than what was seen in 2010, but it also removes any additional cuts ready to kick in.

Disability advocates are saying only that they are encouraged. If the deal is approved, there is still quite a bit of uncertainty about how much each program will receive. Many disability advocates are planning to lobby for spending on programs for people with disabilities.

Jennifer Dexter, the assistant vice president of government relations at Easter Seals, commented that Congress needs to hear from those with disabilities to understand how the support of the federal government impacts their lives.

As the bill moves forward, disability advocates will keep an eye on all disability programs under the federal government to try to ensure spending goes toward those in need. Some programs—including Social Security and Medicaid—were left relatively untouched, but many still worry that money may still be taken from these programs and away from those who rely on it to live.

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John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney of Keefe Disability Law