I stood outside the doors of the Rotunda, on the steps of the Capital Building and was permitted to go no further.  From where I stood I could hear the chants, cheers, and clamoring yells resound.  The guard told me the Rotunda reached maximum capacity and no one could go any further and added, “This is a highly unusual circumstance.  We never get this many people for a rally”.  

What led me to this moment was the promise made and forcefully broken by Governor Corbett.  In his candidacy he promised a strong commitment to protecting the needs of the government’s most vulnerable citizens; namely those with intellectual disabilities and autism.  Below is what has proceeded to unfold following his election.  This information was taken from a letter to the editor written by Jim McFalls, Executive Director of KenCrest Services (an agency that provides services to individuals with Intellectual Disabilities and Autism.  It has been providing services for over 100 years and was voted Philadelphia’s number one place to work in the Philadelphia Inquirer’s 2012 edition of the Top 100 list.).

“As part of his “reduce the welfare rolls” initiative, the Secretary of DPW has decreed a 6% across-the-board rate cut. His decision ignores the fact that, unlike most people applying for welfare as a temporary safety net, people with ID and autism have lifelong, chronic disabilities and need lifelong services…

At this moment, the difference between what the state is paying and the cost of the services they want KenCrest to provide is $2.3 million…

The state is ultimately responsible for the care and treatment of its citizens with ID and autism. If the state will not pay private provider agencies for the actual cost of these services, then the people being served will have to go back to the state, who will have to figure out a way to provide these services themselves. The fear is that the state will place these people back in institutions, a direct path to lawsuits. It is also true that it costs the state approximately twice as much to provide these services in one of their institutions as it costs agencies like KenCrest in the community.”

On Wednesday a rally was assembled by several providers, amassing hundreds of employees, clients who receive services and their families.  They came in numbers, wielding signs they made to express their disappointment, frustration and anger.  They raised their voices in protest and hoped to be heard.