When I first read the news that the MN government shutdown was really happening today, my reaction was to tweet, “There go my 6 yr old autistic son’s summer therapies.” Maybe that seems like a selfish initial response, and maybe it is. But I prefer to think of it instead as a personal response, because after all, what our legislators do in the sterility of government chambers ends up affecting everyone somehow, somewhere personally.
It’s an old meme that the personal is political. It’s also universally, oftentimes heartbreakingly true.
There has been a lot of debate and discussion in the run-up to the shutdown about what would and would not be considered essential government business if the legislators could not reach a budget agreement–even a State Supreme Court case. It’s hard enough to take that Minnesota GOP legislators want to solve our state’s budget deficit by making what has been described by our governor as “Draconian cuts” that will slash programs for the poorest and most vulnerable of populations here.
It’s harder still to swallow that an impasse can come over Gov. Dayton’s proposal for a tax increase on only 7700 of the wealthiest MN millionaires instead.
Lost income, lost childcare, lost help to disabled
Hardest of all is knowing that all this GOP entrenchment and vehement protection of personal wealth means so much more than closed state parks and a pause in the lottery. It means middle class workers losing their pay, low-income working parents losing their subsidized daycare, the sick, elderly and disabled losing PCA assistance to care for them. It means the MN GOP has made my home state a place whose actions I’m ashamed of.
In my personal, political world, it means frozen state-funded grants and waivers that provide therapy and medical equipment for children with developmental disabilities, and a shutdown on the developmental strides my sons could have reached this summer.
As a parent of two autistic youngsters, 6 and 4 years old (the younger who recently graduated from “autistic” to “speech delayed with emergent ADHD” as a result of two years of tireless aggressive therapies and early intervention services), I can attest to the high emotional and financial costs of raising special needs children. Their needs require massive amounts of time, therapeutic tools and medical specialties–siphoning away both the parents’ ability to earn and the income they do bring in at an alarming rate. After more than two years of waiting for state funded grants to help defray these costs and give my boys access to the needed autism therapies most middle class families can really only dream of (which are also prohibitively expensive and, bizarrely, still not covered by most private health insurance), the government of Minnesota shut down and froze their grants, on the very first day they would have been available for use.
In the end, it’s the least among Minnesotans who will suffer, including little boys with autism.
Related Care2 links : California Has a Budget, Minnesot has a Shutdown
Photo Credit: Angela Braun