Posted: Jun 26, 2013 6:41 PM by Chris Welty
Updated: Jun 26, 2013 6:47 PM
Governor Jindal is coming under fire after vetoing four million dollars from next year's budget that would have expanded a program for the developmentally disabled.
Jindal says the state can't afford to expand the new opportunity waiver, or "NOW." The program provides residential support, community integration and development as well as other services for the disabled.
Two Acadiana families are joining a grassroots effort to overturn the governor's veto. Sister-in-laws Bambi and Lacie Polotzola both have sons with autism. They say Governor Jindal's veto is a slap in the face to the hundreds of families with disabilities.
"It's very frustrating," said Lacie. "Not only do you get a diagnosis of something with your child that you're already unfamiliar with, then you start learning of things you could do to help your child and it's taken away."
Lacie's son, has been on the waiting list for the New Opportunity Waiver for three years. She has received some state help, but believes it could be another 10 years before her family receives the benefits from the NOW program.
"I'm scared people in the future won't have the access to these. Will there ever be anything else for us if we need as he grows," said Lacie.
Department of Health and Hospitals say the cuts were necessary. Although the legislature expanded DHH's budget by four million dollars, they also cut nearly 20 million dollars in other areas.
"I'm always going to choose making reductions to an expansion of a program before I make reductions to existing services that will affect families already receiving services," said Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Kathy Kliebert.
For Bambi Polotzola, that answer isn't good enough. She says her son is thriving from the program and is worried others won't have that same opportunity.
"We're saying no, give us these funds so we can keep our children home and we can take care of them," said Bambi. "They can make the progress they need to be with family and be contributing members of the community."