The House Health & Welfare Committee has voted unanimously in favor of HB 476, to restore employment supports for disabled people that were cut in HB 260 in 2011. As a result of the cut, the number of disabled people getting on-the-job training and support fell from 275 in 2010 to 182 in 2013, as it forced a choice between treatment services and employment supports, rather than allowing for both; many had to stop working. The committee heard extensive testimony about how the employment support services help disabled Idahoans work and remain independent.
“As a fiscal conservative, I think we’ve got to look at what we spend money on, and this program I think returns greatly to the community and to the people that participate in it,” said Rep. Ed Morse, R-Hayden. “I’ve always felt that the best social program is a job – it keeps people employed, engaged, and … gives them a sense of self-worth, makes them productive members of the society. So I fully support this legislation.”
Rep. Fred Wood, R-Burley, the committee chairman, said, when it’s clear that it’s costing the state more to maintain cuts than to restore them, “then of course we’d be foolish to do it.” He said, “I would just like to thank all of the employers out there who have actually tried to and have successfully found work for our disabled population, because quite frankly, those employees are the most appreciative employees that that employer will ever have.”
The bill now moves to the full House with a recommendation that it “do pass.” It needs passage both there and in the Senate plus the governor’s signature to become law.