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People with Disabilities Awareness Day 2014 Legislative Summary (Document)
1) 5% cuts to critical DRS’ job programs
State funding was flat in 2013. This year, the state has $188 million less to invest in services. The state asked agencies to estimate the impact of 5% budget cuts.
• Every $1 in state budget cuts costs an additional $4 in federal match funds for employment programs.
• Right now, 1,206 DRS job seekers are on waiting lists until funds are available to pay for their job preparation and employment services.
• If DRS does not have a budget cut, they can continue to help job seekers with the most severe disabilities and gradually move those with less severe disabilities off waiting lists as funds become available.
• DRS makes cents for Oklahoma: Don’t cut funding for DRS and other agencies serving the disability community.
2) DRS Vocational Rehabilitation/Visual Services job programs
• DRS helped 2,241clients become taxpaying citizens in 2013.
• These citizens earn an average of $18,854 and pay $2,828 in taxes per year.
• Every state dollar for DRS employment programs earns 4 federal match dollars.
• Every $1 invested in clients returns $2.3 in increased tax payments and reduced public assistance, representing a 230% return on investment.
• DRS clients who receive vocational rehabilitation services are 77% more likely to be employed within three months after their services end.
3) New catering business at Capitol for DRS’ snack bar owners who are blind (Senate Bill 1206)
Authors: Sen. Kyle Loveless Room 531 & Rep. Arthur Hulbert Room 204
• SB-1206 initially called for a study of private enterprise food vendors to compete with legally blind food service owner/operators at the Capitol building. Owner/operators are former DRS clients now affiliated with DRS’ Visual Services’ Business Enterprise Program.
• The bill now allows owner/operators at the Capitol to contract with outside vendors to offer catering during legislative session through an e-commerce website to be used for ordering food.
• The bill passed the Senate 37-5.
4) Access to juvenile records (SB1520)
Authors: Sen. Earl Garrison Room 528A & Rep. Charles McCall Room 244
• SB -1520 allows DRS’ Oklahoma School for the Blind & Oklahoma School for the Deaf access to certain juvenile records available to other public schools for the safety of students.
• The records would remain confidential.
• The Senate approved the bill 44-0. It has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
5) Limits to Medicaid services (House Bill 2384)
Author: Rep. Dr. Doug Cox Room 331
6) Funding regional transportation projects
(HB 2480) – Authors: Rep. Charlie Joyner Rom 436 & Senator Don Barrington 234
• HB-2480 allows portions of cities and counties to decide by a vote of residents to become part of a regional district in order to fund regional transportation or economic development projects.
• Transportation remains a critical barrier to employment for many job seekers with disabilities, so public transit options provide new ways to solve this problem.
• The bill passed the House 59-28.
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