Behind The Numbers: One Story In The Budget Crisis

Posted on 10. Dec, 2009 by in Beats, Thomas Lin, Urban

The New York State legislature recently passed a $2.8 billion budget cut in an attempt to close the nearly $4 billion budget gap. In the face of this fiscal crisis, groups like Bay Ridge’s Guild for Exceptional Children–which receives most of its funding in the from of state-based Medicaid–are preparing for the worse.

The Guild serves approximately 800 individuals with developmental disabilities that range from the incapacitating to the nearly impossible to detect. Venus Gonzalez, 27, is one such individual. She participates in the “day habilitation” program with the Guild. She and about ten other participants volunteer at local stores and elderly homes during the weekdays.

These high-functioning individuals, as they are called, are possibly at the highest risk for suffering the consequences of the budget cuts. Since the Guild’s mission is to serve the most needy first, any cuts in staff or programs will most likely affect those–like Venus–who have some ability to function independently. But staffers and parents both warn that, should these programs disappear, people like Venus will be affected severely.

While politicians speak of the painful necessity for pulling back funds, the real-world effect of these cuts on actual people can often be lost in the facts and figures of legislative number crunching. The question is, is there another way? State and agency officials say no. But can we afford a state that can’t take care of the most insecure and neediest among us?

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