We are very disappointed at the outcome of today’s vote. This vote recommended to the Legislature’s Executive Appropriations Committee that the Utah State Office of Rehabilitation be moved under the administrative authority of the Department of Workforce Services. The vote was not a consensus vote and we thank our Republican colleagues who heard the voices of USOR clients and supported our motion to establish USOR as a stand-alone agency, under the auspices of the Governor’s Office. USOR clients have, without reservation, consistently and adamantly expressed their wish that USOR be a stand-alone agency.
We ask you, the public, to contact the members of the Executive Appropriations Committee and ask them to halt the transfer, and give USOR the ability to become a stand alone entity under the direction of the Office of the Governor. Click here to find the members of the committee, and their contact information.
Representative Chavez-Houck added "We do not believe that the clients of USOR are acting out of “fear of change” as has been alluded to by some, but rather because their current experiences. These reflect less than optimal outcomes in working with DWS. While recent audits of DWS have noted glowing customer satisfaction, conversations with clients indicate otherwise. As legislators, we are the ones that receive the emails and calls when services are not met to client satisfaction; this feedback cannot be ignored.
Of particular concern to the Democratic members of the committee is the fact that administrative savings that are anticipated (but were not provided with any specificity by the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget and DWS) will not be funneled back to client services, as have been promised.We only have to reflect on how Medicaid enrollment savings have been returned to the state’s General Fund and not to that program’s restricted account to know that our fears have foundation.
Those of us who are members of EAC will continue to fight for the clients’ concerns and work toward establishing the Office as a standalone entity."
Senator Luz Escamilla, also on the committee stated,“I am disappointed by the action of the Social Services appropriations subcommittee. The Utah State Office of Rehabilitation provides critical services to people with disabilities and making this agency a stand-alone would increase visibility, transparency, accountability and importance of its services.
“The decision was made without the cost analysis necessary to make this type of decision. I hope the legislature listens to the community impacted by this decisions.”
Representative Sandra Hollins added, “Yesterday at the meeting individuals express concerns about USOR losing their identity if moved to DWS, will they have equal access to services (i.e. People with disability may not be able to access computers to sign up for services), concerns that DWS do not share USOR mission and will there be a protection of the current programing being offered.”
Contact members of the Executive Appropriations Committee now and ask to make USOR a stand alone entity, able to provide service the community with a clear focus on increasing independence and employment.