Governor rescinds layoffs for 200 State workers caring for disabled poor receive reprieves

January 26, 1996|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

Bowing to complaints from advocates for the disabled, Gov. Parris N. Glendening has reversed himself and rescinded the layoffs of more than 200 state workers who care for the disabled poor in their homes.

Aides said the governor changed his mind on the layoffs after hearing a plea from Joel D. Myerberg, chairman of the Maryland Disability Forum, a statewide advocacy group.

"When the governor became aware that the program had been cut and the implications of that cut, he decided that the area be funded," said Dianna Rosborough, Mr. Glendening's press secretary.

The governor's budget -- submitted to the legislature nine days ago -- proposed cutting $500,000 from the in-home aide program by serving about 175 fewer clients and by putting the program in the hands of private companies with less expensive employees.

The 228 state workers who were to lose their jobs July 1 constituted the biggest group of employees being laid off under the governor's budget for next year.

Mr. Glendening also proposed laying off about 300 other workers, including many prison teachers, some police officers who patrol state buildings, and several day-care center inspectors. The governor has not changed his mind on those cuts, Mrs. Rosborough said.

Mr. Myerberg said he and other advocates for the disabled talked to the governor and his staff about the in-home aides this week.

"These budget cuts would have had a negative impact on services to our most vulnerable population," Mr. Myerberg said. "We told him that the cut would be a real problem."

Edward Jones, 56, a South Baltimore retiree who uses a wheelchair and a life-support system, said yesterday he was relieved he would not lose the aide who has done his shopping and cleaning weekly for five years.

"For them to cut my service out, I couldn't do the work around my house," Mr. Jones said. "When I saw that in the paper, it really upset me."

Key legislators said they were glad the governor changed his mind about the aides, but criticized him for whipsawing the program's clients and employees.

"It's unfortunate that state employees had to go through the anguish of believing they were going to lose their jobs," said Del. Howard P. Rawlings, a Baltimore Democrat and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. "I hope there's better planning we don't put employees through these hoops in the future."

Del. Robert H. Kittleman, the House Republican leader, said the governor had "goofed."

"If you're going to get anything right, you sure ought to get it right when you're going to lay somebody off," said Mr. Kittleman of Howard County. "You want to be really sure of yourself before you do that to somebody."

Sen. Barbara A. Hoffman, chairwoman of the Budget and Taxation Committee, said she had heard from several constituents.

"People would call and say, 'I really love my provider and I'm worried about how I'd get along with a new one,' " said Ms. Hoffman, a Baltimore Democrat. "You're dealing with people who can't care for themselves. There was great anxiety."

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