A few days before Christmas the state health department announced it would end contracts with non-profit companies that help people with developmental disabilities. Now, an online petition posted last week protesting the cuts has gathered more than 11,000 signatures.
The petition calls on Governor Steve Bullock and the state Legislature to reverse their decision to cut state funding for private case managers for people with developmental disabilities. Case managers help clients navigate daily life, doing so helps keep many out of institutions.
The petition was started by Kris Martin. Martin works at Eastern Montana Industries in Miles City, a nonprofit that gives people with disabilities job and housing services.
“I’m hoping to open the eyes of Governor Steve Bullock first of all, and the Montana Senate, open their eyes to the horrible side effects of reversing the targeted case management. These are the people that need the help the most. These are the people Montana should get together to help, not be taking away from them.”
When Martin started the petition she didn’t expect it to change how officials were making budget cuts to deal with Montana’s state budget shortfall. Now that the word is spreading, she says she’s starting to get her hopes up.
The Montana Department Health and Human Services is holding a press conference this Friday to explain the cuts to the agency’s Developmental Disability Program. Those cuts are expected this spring.