Mahoning Valley lawmakers applauded today’s announcement that the latest version of the state budget includes a provision that may help keep the doors open and the lights on at the Youngstown Developmental Center.
The latest version of the budget bill would establish a 13-member closure review commission anytime the Governor orders the closure of a state developmental center—a provision that closely mirrors a bi-partisan amendment submitted by Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan and Rep. Michael Henne (R-Clayton), whose district includes the Montgomery Developmental Center.
“Since the decision was made to close the Youngstown Developmental Center, the response has been clear and unequivocal: the workers, residents and their families, and indeed the entire community want and need this facility to remain open,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan. “The YDC provides a tremendous service for the most vulnerable population. I am thrilled that we were able to work in a bi-partisan fashion to work toward a review commission.”
Under the new budget language, the review commission would consider at least 10 specified criteria and factors before making a recommendation, and the Governor could not close a facility without the commission’s recommendation.
“I am pleased the proposal for a review commission has been included in the latest amendments to the state budget,” said Leader Joe Schiavoni. "The residents, their families and the employees of the Youngstown Developmental Center deserve a fair and open process in deciding the future of the facility. While this looks promising for the future of the Developmental Center, the legislation still has a long way to go and I will be working hard to make sure it stays in the budget.”
Senate Democratic Leader Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and Sen. Capri S. Cafaro (D-Hubbard) introduced a Senate bill that would establish a procedure similar to the one that is now included in the state budget.
“I am pleased to see that the House has included language in the budget similar to Senate Bill 62 recognizing the importance of making developmental disability center closures transparent,” said Sen. Cafaro. “The work done by Representative Lepore-Hagan and Representative Gerberry is much appreciated and I will work arduously to protect this language when it comes to the Senate.”
Lepore-Hagan recently joined Rep. Ron Gerberry (D-Austintown) to offer companion legislation to the Senate bill in the Ohio House.
“The center is so important to families and individuals in our community,” said Rep. Gerberry. “I am glad we were able to take a commonsense approach that could protect the quality of life for residents. I am hopeful that this provision will make it through the budget process and ultimately lead to a more thorough and transparent consideration of the importance of our community’s facility.”
The House Finance Committee will now hold additional public hearings, with a final vote by the full House expected at the end of next week.