Appropriations Time

We're living through parlous times at the Ranch. 

The Texas Legislature is in session, something that happens every other year, and is usually a target of political cartoonists and an occasion for jokes about lawyers and politicians.

The mood's a bit more somber this year, however.  Like other states, we have our tail in a crack, and since we're a really big state, it's a really big tail, and it really hurts.

Senate Bill 1 was revealed about a week ago, and some of its provisions suggested cuts to human services, including those with IDDs, in the realm of 29-47%.  Oh no, Mr. Bill!  (Specifically, SB1)

For most providers, if things were to settle out there, it would answer the question of, “How do I cope?”  The answer would be, “I don't.  I go out of business and do something else with my life.”

Jerry and I wrote testimony to be delivered at the SB 1 hearings having to do with programs and agencies that serve people with IDDs.  I walked into the hearing and immediately recognized half the room–parents of kids we've known forever, providers, advocates, support group representatives, and lots and lots of people currently receiving services, many in wheelchairs.

As I walk in, I recognize the woman giving testimony.  She's the mom of a young man who was brutally damaged in infancy by a babysitter.  I have known this woman for years, not well, but aware from a distance of her struggles in the disastrous period following her baby's injury, through her divorce and her ex-husband's suicide.  Through the legal proceedings, and eventually the perpetrator's suicide.  I have long marveled from afar at the sheer courage it took for her to build a noble and honorable life for herself and her boy out of the splinters and shards of what remained.

Now her son is grown.  She depends upon a government program to help her care for him.  It has made the difference between simply going on living and having a good life.

Someone asked me recently, “Why should the government be responsible for your daughter?”  It wasn't asked in a hostile manner.  It's a good question.  Why, indeed?

And it's the question at the very heart of many of our political Gordian knots.  You think you have a firm grip on an opinion, and you tease out a strand, and you follow it back, and you realize, “Whoa!  I didn't know this was going to wind up there!”

I at least seem invariably to wind up in a maze of yes, buts.  I can only imagine being a legislator and having to reconcile reality with the testimony given by my friend.  Whatever whoever did that wound us up in this pickle may be important to know, but it doesn't help figure out what to do now.

What then shall we do?