Testimony at DSHS Town Hall Meeting

"All our problems stem from our acceptance
of this filthy, rotten system."
Dorothy Day, 1897-1980
Social activist, journalist, feminist, founder of Catholic Worker

Testimony at DSHS Town Hall Meeting, October 21, 2011, Seattle
By Guerry Hoddersen, Sisters Organize for Survival & member of SEIU Local 775

I am a home healthcare worker. I take care of my sister who has Alzheimer's and my 88-year-old father-in-law. My husband is also a home healthcare worker with the responsibility for his 85-year-old mother. Both my husband and I work fulltime.

The cuts proposed by DSHS for the Special Session of the Washington state legislature will throw vulnerable, aged and disabled people out on the streets and drag down those of us who are trying to care for them. We are already overwhelmed with rising medical costs, threats to social security, cuts in our DSHS hours, rising food and gas prices. And now this?!

These cuts are not just a bad idea; they are immoral and scandalous in the richest country in the world…in a state where some of the richest people on earth live. After years of letting Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks and the rest of the tax-evading millionaire class get away with tax shelters, the poorest of the poor and the weakest of the weak are supposed to make up the difference in the state budget.

The staff of DSHS should be refusing--as a matter of principle--to propose a budget to the governor with 10% cuts. To do so is to give legitimacy to the idea that the state can fulfill its duty to the people of Washington with this grotesque pretense of taking care of vulnerable folk and their hardworking families.

What will happen to the 450 people who will be thrown out of nursing homes? Will they be dropped off in alleys downtown? Or the 11,700 who will lose home care because they only need "intermittent assistance?" Did you ever take care of someone who needs intermittent assistance? A fall is an intermittent thing, but a person can lie on the floor for days if no one is there to check on them.

What about the thousands of developmentally disabled who will no longer be eligible for services they have had in the past? What kind of a society throws these people to the wolves?

And there are the hard-pressed workers in nursing homes who will receive no wage increases due to the elimination of nursing home add-ons. The work they do is emotionally taxing and so underpaid it is criminal. Is this anyway to treat the kind people who take care of our grannies and mothers, our fathers and uncles?

I call on the administrators of DSHS to reject the concept of 10% cuts and tell the governor that you would rather resign than put your names to such an irresponsible, anti-social budget. That would be the brave and honest thing to do and would open a discussion statewide on the effects of these cuts on helpless people. Let's show more respect and shed fewer tears for those in need. Let's fight back

Guerry Hoddersen is a writer for the Freedom Socialist newspaper. Sisters Organize for Survival is a campaign initiated by Seattle Radical Women, 206-722-6057.