PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday said he will ask the Legislature in his upcoming budget proposal to reallocate $20 million to provide more services for Pennsylvanians with intellectual disabilities.
The state needs to do a better job of helping people who are unable to care for themselves, Corbett said at Wednesday news conference at the United Way of Philadelphia.
He'll deliver a budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year to the Legislature on Feb. 5. In it, he's planning to request $20 million more than the $919 million that his administration says is being provided this year for programs that include day, home and community services for the mentally disabled.
Corbett says the proposal is designed to reduce a waiting list of about 15,000 people by 1,200. Those on the list have been waiting for months or years to get services for adult family members with Down syndrome, autism, Fragile X syndrome and other conditions that cause life-long intellectual impairment.
Members of Philadelphia-based advocacy group Vision for Equality and the group's Waiting List Campaign, who appeared with Corbett, said his proposal would give hope to many families.
"It has been a long and slow uphill battle," said Sheila Stasko of the Pennsylvania Waiting List Campaign.
Corbett said after visiting Vision for Equality last fall and talking to intellectually disabled adults and their caregivers about their struggles, "to say that I was moved ... would be an understatement."
"I believe we have an obligation to look after members of society, citizens of Pennsylvania, who through no failing of their own cannot care for themselves," he said. "It troubles me deeply that in Pennsylvania we have not been meeting our obligations and frankly I believe many of us didn't know what was out there."