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Thursday, October 23, 2008


Massachusetts Job Cuts Affect Disabled

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has imposed social services budget cuts that will affect jobs for the disabled and blind, as well as mental health programs in the state. Nonprofit advocacy groups are up in arms over the nearly 1,000 layoffs and $1 billion budget cuts, which are the result of the economic crisis.

Gov. Patrick has eliminated funding for Ferguson Industries for the Blind, a state-run business located outside of Boston, which provides legally blind persons employment opportunities in manufacturing. The facility, in business since 1906, will close its doors next month, eliminating the jobs of 25 blind workers.

The governor has also cut training programs for the mentally disabled. Stan Connors, president of Bay Cove Human Services, said these are the most dramatic cuts he has seen to people with mental disabilities. Bay Cove, which services 14,000 people with mental health disabilities, is losing over $3 million from its budget and must lay off approximately 40 people. Cuts are also being made to training programs for these constituents.

"Frankly, many of these people will end up in the hospital. Some will end up incarcerated, and, I believe, some will die,” said Connors.

Over $9 million in cuts to the state’s Department of Mental Health budget have been made. "I'm very concerned about every one of the cuts we put on the table," said Barbara Leadholm, commissioner of the Department of Mental Health. "We're cutting programs that we believe are important, effective, and support our consumers' recovery. That being said, we still had to make these cuts. We're having to prioritize in a way none of us wants to do."

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