The same day Florida was pummeled by severe storms, Republican Governor Rick Scott took time out of his busy itinerary to participate in a truly heartwarming event. The Tallahassee Democrat reported yesterday (Thursday) that Gov. Scott attended the annual Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run, during which law enforcement officials around the globe run to raise money for the Special Olympics.
It would have been an almost idyllic scene had it not come on the heels of Gov. Scott’s announcement that the state’s payments to social workers and group homes for people with disabilities would be slashed by 15 percent.
On March 31st, Gov. Scott ordered drastic cuts that would impact funding that is much-needed by the approximately 30,000 Floridians with “severe developmental disabilities,” the Orlando Sentinel reported.
They say “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link,” and so it is clear that Gov. Scott is abusing his power to the chagrin of our most vulnerable residents.
The fact that he chose to ingratiate himself with the Special Olympics athletes after betraying the community of Floridians with disabilities speaks volumes about the governor’s character. It was indeed the equivalent of politicians who kiss babies and hold puppies in order to get a photo op only to drop them two seconds after the camera flash. His actions were not inadvertently ironic—they were deliberately dripping condescension. It was the ultimate kiss of Judas for these hard-working athletes that make our community proud.
According to the Orlando Sentinel article, “the governor invoked his emergency powers to order the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities to immediately roll back payments to group homes and social workers by 15 percent- an amount providers say could put them out of business and threaten their clients’ safety.”
The governor alleges that the cuts, which went into effect today, are an attempt to address the APD’s “ongoing budget deficit – currently at $170 million.” But is cutting the services that keep people out of nursing homes and off the streets the best way to address this deficit? I think not.
My view is that the person occupying the office of the governor can best be judged by how he treats those who are the most vulnerable, the people who rely on the goodwill and kindness of others. Turning his back on them is nothing short of a crime.
And this isn’t the only example of Gov. Scott’s crusade to put his personal interests ahead of the well-being of his constituents. One has only to read about his pre-political background in this article on The Huffington Post to understand what’s in it for him.
Furthermore, Mr. Scott is pushing a bill that will initiate a complete overhaul of Medicaid, a program that provides healthcare coverage for people with low incomes or with certain disabilities and high medical expenses.
As if enough people didn’t already stand to be affected by this impending overhaul, no doubt the aging population of Baby Boomers, many of whom might be dependent on nursing home care, will find this to be a very costly decision.
What it all boils down to is the state government’s compassion (or lack thereof) for a sect of the population that is historically overlooked, marginalized, or sometimes institutionalized. These seemingly-innocent “cuts” will force many people who can otherwise live independently, but who rely on an aide or nurse, into private, expensive nursing homes.
But perhaps Mr. Scott’s biggest mistake is assuming that people with disabilities will passively accept his actions without rebuttal. Well, Mr. Governor, think again. You better start showing some compassion, or it won’t be long before the whole of Florida is declared a “state of emergency.”