Friday, Oct. 3, 2008 | 2:08 a.m.
Advocates of funding for autism services scored a major victory in 2007 when a Nevada law was passed that earmarked $2 million to address the developmental disability. Most of the money was to help parents and legal guardians defray the costs of treatment for children.
Imagine the devastation Ralph Toddre, founder of the Autism Coalition of Nevada, must have felt Tuesday when he was informed by state Health and Human Services Department Director Michael Willden that the autism funding would not be continued beyond June 30 because of state budget cuts. Toddre, president and chief operating officer of Sunbelt Communications Co., wasted no time firing off a letter to state lawmakers.
As reported by Las Vegas Sun columnist Jon Ralston via his Ralston Flash e-mail service, Toddre wrote: “I know times are tough, and the governor feels the solution to all the problems is to cut services, but there comes a time when this government must decide whether it is there to help people, or ignore them. Obviously, they have decided to ignore the citizens of this state that suffer from a disease that affects 1 in 150, and financially devastates the families dealing with it.”
This is simply the latest example of the “real-world carnage of thoughtless budget cuts,” as Ralston put it, which rests squarely on the shoulders of Gov. Jim Gibbons. The governor’s destructive ideology, one that fails to realize the necessity of expanding the state’s revenue base to better reflect Nevada in the 21st century, is preventing autism treatment and other worthy programs from obtaining the funds they richly deserve and desperately need. Instead, we have mindless budget cutting whose human toll cuts across a broad swath of state services, including other health care programs and education.
Gibbons appears content with running the state into the ground.