People with disabilities could lose jobs due to state funding cuts

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Ada, Minn. (Valley News Live) A lack of funding is leading to cuts at developmental activity centers across Minnesota. In some cases, leaving them on the verge of being shut down, leaving people with disabilities without a job.

The Best Life Alliance, a nonpartisan coalition of Minnesotans, is trying to get lawmakers in St. Paul to provide the needed dollars.

"A lot of people are like, wow you are disabled, and you shouldn't be working here. I am working here, no matter what you say about me because I can do this job, no matter what," Kelli Maruska said.

Maruska says her disabilities won’t keep her from being employed. Thanks to the developmental activities center in Ada, she and many others are able to find work.

"They have taught me so much about myself and so much what I can do in the community," Maruska said.

"This federal mandate that came down was to try and make it so everybody was equal, so all D.A.Cs are getting the same income. It’s cut our funding so drastically, that we here are set to lose approximately 23 percent of income," Norman County Development Center Executive Director Hiliary Chisholm said.

Leaving Kelli and nearly 30 others in Ada and many more across the state without jobs. But there is hope.

"Right now they are working on what is called the Best Life Alliance which could turn into a five percent funding increase,” Chisholm said.

Five percent increase in state funding that would go a long way to keeping Ada's center and others open and people like Kelli working.

"What if you were me? Put yourself in our shoes, for once, and understand what we go through every day. Places like this, we need them open because this is our work and if we don't have it, what else are we going to do?" Maruska said.

The decision on increased state funding is expected during this legislative session. If the bill is not approved, Chisholm says D.A.Cs across the state will likely stay open until they run out of money.