FORT MYERS, Fla.- More than 100 people packed the streets of downtown Fort Myers on Thursday, protesting Governor Scott's emergency spending cut on funding for the disabled.
They swamped the sidewalks of Southwest Florida's disability office, protesters crying out against deep cuts to funding for the disabled.
"They're painful cuts. They're going to be extensive. They're going to make people have problems with just daily living," LARC Executive Director Roger Bradley said during Thursday's rally.
Governor Scott ordered emergency cuts to the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. It has been running over budget for years and faces a $174 million dollar deficit. But those depending on APD's support, fear what the cuts will mean to their daily life.
"I need that because that's what pays for my medicine and things like that. If I get that cut out, I don't know what I'm going to do," said Randy Hill, who is mentally disabled.
The cuts are projected to slash funding for the disabled by 15-40%. Caregivers say they already operate on a bare-bones budget and many of them donate their services just to keep the state's disabled off the streets.
"A lot of people in this field have good hearts. But they have to earn a living too, you know. So it's brutal. We're worried. We're scared," said Gerri Murphy, who cares for the disabled.
Governor Scott says the APD's spending is simply not sustainable. But caregivers say the cuts will end up punishing the wrong people.
"The people here on this street today are not the ones who made these mistakes. These are bureaucrats in Tallahassee. They're the people who should have the pain inflicted on them. Not the people on the street today," Bradley said.
The Agency for Persons with Disabilities serves 30,000 disabled in Florida.