Letter to the Editor: Don’t “scoop” funds for those with brain injuries

Release date: 
Friday, February 26, 2010

The Governor has proposed -- and the House and Senate appear poised to agree to -- the scooping of $2,000,000 from the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Account, established pursuant to the Tommy Manning Act (RCW 74.31). 

Establishment of this account recognized the state’s historic pattern of under-serving people with traumatic brain injuries, including our wounded veterans. Yet the TBI community will absorb a disproportionate amount of overall legislative cuts with enactment of this proposal.

Of the $2,908,000 in the TBI Account potentially available for FY 2011, 68.7%, or $2,000,000, is being diverted elsewhere, or “scooped”, for purposes not authorized in the statute.

The state TBI Council, created by the Tommy Manning Act, has identified critical needs, including TBI-specific housing, prevention, adequate insurance for critical therapies, and first-responder and emergency care training needed to save lives and reduce the severity of these injuries. 

The TBI Council has been unable to access a significant portion of account funds, dedicated for these purposes, due to legislative inaction. The legislature failed to appropriate these funds, and now they are taking them away. 

Half of 1 percent of every state construction project is set aside for onsite art. According to State Senator Mike Carrell, that includes projects for state agencies, prisons, universities, community colleges and public schools.  He estimates that the set-aside for art at a single state construction project or two would be enough to prevent the scooping of the TBI Account.  Disability Rights Washington has examined the capital and operating budgets and not found any “scooping” proposal related to the Art in Public Places funds.

So we ask.  In these difficult times why not delay an art project or two, until the financial crisis is over, and use the money to save the Traumatic Brain Injury Account for its statutorily intended purposes? 

We think Washington citizens would understand the priority to our wounded soldiers and others with traumatic brain injuries.  We are not against art. If the legislature can find the money elsewhere to save the TBI Account, that’s fine. 

We just don’t understand why this dedicated fund is subject to severe “scooping” when others are not. 

The TBI Account was established in recognition of disproportionately under-serving those with traumatic brain injuries.  It is unjust that those with brain injuries must now bear the brunt of budgetary relief in times of recession as well.

Mark Stroh, Chair
Washington State Traumatic Brain Injury Council
Executive Director
Disability Rights Washington
(206) 324-1521 x 217 [email protected]

 


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