excerpt:"Disability rights advocates try year after year to convince lawmakers to close Texas' state-supported living centers — the large, institutional-care settings that have been targeted by the U.S. Justice Department for dangerous conditions. Every time, their efforts are rebuffed: by the adamant parents who rely on the facilities to care for their loved ones, and the lawmakers who count on them as economic drivers in their districts.
This session, advocates say they have a big plus in their column: the state's giant budget crunch. They are hoping lawmakers, facing an estimated $18 billion to $25 billion shortfall, will have no choice but to shutter some of the facilities, which cost Texas a combined $500 million to operate every year.
"Does this economic reality make it easier for legislators to do it? I sure hope so," said Amy Mizcles, governmental affairs director with The Arc of Texas, which wants people with disabilities to receive community-based care. "We keep hearing this fiscal responsibility mantra. We have a real opportunity to provide better quality care in a much less expensive setting."
So far, there is little evidence state officials will take this course, even with the budget crisis. State Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, the key Senate budget writer who has been most open to downsizing the state schools, declined to