Well over a thousand people with disabilities, their family members, friends, and direct care workers crowded into the Rhode Island State House on Wednesday in what was originally going to be a rally to demand the restoration of $18 million cut in funding to Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) services in the Governor’s proposed budget. But before the rally began, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, Speaker of the House Nicholas Mattiello (Democrat, District 15, Cranston) and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio (Democrat, District 4, Providence) all committed to restoring the funds in the budget, leaving the crowd with little to do but thank the elected officials for not following through on threatened cuts.
The rally was organized by the Community Provider Network of Rhode Island (CPNRI) which represents 22 private providers of services and supports to more than 3,500 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Rhode Island.
CPNRI Executive Director Donna Martin emceed the event:
Richard Wilks spoke on behalf of himself and his brother, Alan Wilks, who is developmentally disabled and cared for by West Bay Residential.
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Brian Salvagna is a self-advocate from AccessPointRI.
“My heart is with you,” said Speaker Mattiello, “and we will do everything we can to assist you in your challenges, assist you in daily lives and make your lives better.”
Senator Louis DiPalma (Democrat, District 12, Little Compton, Middletown):
“Every year we have a difficult budget and it’s hard,” said Governor Gina Raimondo, who included the $18 million in cuts in her budget. “but I’m here to tell you that we’re going to do the right thing, we’re going to put the $18 million there, we’re going to make sure that resources are there in order to protect the system and also help us to make the system more stable, and transform the system. And we’re also going to continue with you, for a long time, to make sure we raise the wages of people who do this work.”
Representative Cale Keable (Democrat, District 47, Burrillville, Glocester):
CPNRI Executive Director Donna Martin:
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