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Sunset Commission Hears Testimony on Closing Austin State Supported Living Center

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News
Members of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission are hearing testimony from the public on June 25, 2014 about reports recommending reforms of several state agencies.

Members of the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission are hearing from the public today about reports recommending large-scale changes to several state agencies – including shutting down six state-supported living centers. 

Most people at the Capitol are testifying in support of the Sunset staff’s report on the Department of Family and Protective Services and severe inadequacies that lead to child deaths and caseworker turnover. But others are there to testify against a Sunset staff report [click here for PDF] suggesting the Department of Aging and Disability Services should shutter the Austin State Supported Living Center, off of W. 35th Street near Camp Mabry, by 2017.

Sherry Wukasch says her disabled 80-year-old friend wouldn’t be alive if he didn’t live there. "He’s lived over there for over 47 years," she says. "Many of the residents at the SSLC were born needing the assistance of people. They don’t have the ability to take care of themselves."

Bob Kafka, who came to the Capitol with several other advocates for people with disabilities, is calling on lawmakers to proceed with the closure.

"We would say to [State Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound] and [State Rep. Four Price, R-Amarillo], to shepherd it through the legislative session," Kafka says.

In August, the commission will vote on whether to accept or reject the recommendations. Their decisions can then get drafted into legislation that would be introduced next legislative session, which starts next January.

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