COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – Those trying to keep a facility for the developmentally disabled open in Weathersfield are now demanding answers from Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
On Tuesday night, the governor used his line-item veto authority and removed a provision from the state’s new budget bill. It would have created a 13-member commission to review plans for closing the Youngstown Developmental Center in Weathersfield, as well as another one like it in the Dayton area by the end of next year.
The move did not sit well with a number of local elected leaders who have been trying to keep the YDC open for the dozens of residents who use it.
“I don’t know what the governor’s thinking is on this. I don’t know if it is just to remove all state-funded facilities, of which they got vouchers and Medicaid and whatever for,” Mahoning County Commissioner Carol Righetti said.
In a statement explaining his veto, Kasich wrote that the state has been working for years to move those with developmental disabilities away from facilities like YDC and into less restrictive community group homes. Kasich added that the proposed provision could potentially add politics to that process.
Supporters disagree with that and said they will continue working to keep the Youngstown Developmental Center open.
“And for him to go around and talk about how he cares about people in the shadows and the most vulnerable Ohioans, and those are the people he truly cares about. I think that it is very clear what he did yesterday and what he did last night when he line-item vetoed this provision, that his actions don’t match his words,” Senate Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni, D-Boardman, said.
He was one of the bill’s sponsors.
“Some of these residents, it is the only home they have ever had,” Schiavoni said.
While state leaders have said those at YDC will have the option of either moving to other facilities like one in the Cleveland area or into residential group homes, Righetti said that’s going to be a hardship for the residents and their families.
“We have a hard time with change,” Righetti said. “Could you imagine changing something for someone that is not as we are? That isn’t even in God’s plan.”
The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities said it is not financially sustainable to continue running the state’s 10 centers as the number of individuals living in those centers is decreasing.