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This morning, I had the honor to address advocates at the 2012 Maryland Developmental Disabilities Day and I wanted to share a few thoughts.

As Marylanders and as Americans, we’ve always been at our strongest when we embrace the higher notion that we are all in this together. There is more that unites us than divides us, and we are united by our belief in the dignity of every individual. We believe in a Maryland where every person has the chance to be a productive members of his or her community.

That’s why we’re working together to offer the right supports, training and opportunities so that individuals with disabilities can live independent lives.

And together, we’re making real progress:

  • In 2008, we made the tough but right choice to close the Rosewood Center and we helped 150 former residents integrate back into their communities
  • We are building a network of services, supports and resources – helping more than 1,000 Marylanders transition into the community through the “Money Follows the Person” initiative.
  • Over the past six years, we’ve helped more than 12,500 people with disabilities find or keep their job.
  • To help children and young adults as they transition into adulthood, we’ve proposed an additional $6.2 million investment to support community placements.
  • Even in the toughest of times, when we have made $7.5 billion in cuts, we have protected our investments in the Infants and Toddlers initiative, with a nearly $58 million investment over six years.

But we can always do more. That’s why this year, we’re proposing to invest $831 million in community services for developmentally disabled Marylanders—an amount we’ve increased by a third over six years. We’re also returning all the funds reverted to the Developmental Disabilities Administration through an unprecedented, three-year $28.5 million investment to provide ongoing services for at least 300 additional high-risk individuals with disabilities. This is in addition to new investments in resource coordination and an increase in provider rates. And, we have proposed to create a Developmental Disabilities Trust Fund so that in the future, unspent funds will be safeguarded, rather than returned to the State Treasury.

One of the qualities I love about the people of our State is that when our people face adversity, we don’t make excuses, we make progress. We move forward. And we never give up. We have come a long way together – but we can, and must, do much more.

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