Susana Martinez once again sent a message to parents that her administration does not want or need their input when it comes to what is most helpful for their own children. First she pushed to usurp parents’ rights through phony education reform. Now Martinez has directed her agenda towards our society’s most vulnerable—the developmentally disabled.
The priorities here are clear—to help the already flush-with-cash Oil and Gas industry and disregard the needs of desperate families. Campaign contributors get a gubernatorial boost while the pleas of normal New Mexicans fall on deaf ears.
In a powerful UpFront column in today’s Albuquerque Journal, “DD Waiver Changes Frustrate Parents of Disabled”, Jolene Gutierrez Krueger, herself a parent of two special needs children, detailed parents’ frustration at being callously ignored and forced out of the decision making loop regarding their own children.
“It’s like the state is saying we don’t know what is best for our own kids”, Gutierrez Krueger quoted one parent, who described such treatment as “demeaning”.
“I have tried again and again to get them to listen, but they don’t. We need to be loud. We need to have some voice,” another parent explained.
The Martinez Administration adopted what Cathy Stevenson, director of the Disabilities Supports Division of the State Department of Health, called promoting “individual independence and reduced reliance on paid support.”
In other words, “You’re on your own because we are cutting your funds”. The impact of this form of abandonment was succinctly stated by another parent of a special needs child, “When you withdraw support, people will die.”
These “people” are children. Why would Martinez be so callous?
Campaign contributions, or the lack of campaign contributions, may explain her attitude. Parents of the developmentally disabled simply cannot compete with the Oil and Gas industry.
The Oil and Gas folks are responsible for $807,000 of the total contributions to Martinez’s gubernatorial campaign, and a lot more to Susana PAC, her on-going political operation.
The Oil and Gas industry was given $134 million in tax breaks from Martinez, and a place at her policy making table. The parents of special needs kids were given “the least of what they were required to do” from Martinez and her administration.
It is shameful that Martinez has such a blatant disregard for parents’ role in their own children’s future, whether it’s about critical education decisions or caring for society’s most vulnerable.
Is this her idea of being a “stand up” governor?