Our governor and state lawmakers face tough budget choices. I, for one, do not envy them.
But many in Topeka think they can solve the state's fiscal woes simply by enacting more cuts, no matter what the program is or how many cuts it has had to absorb since the Great Recession began.
The hard fact is that cuts affect real people with real problems that they and their loved ones cannot solve on their own. If no one had to rely on state's programs, these programs would not exist.
Another hard fact is that cuts in programs serving the disabled not only affect them and their families but many others, including caregivers, doctors, case managers and their families.
But it is the person with a disability or two who is most hurt by these cuts. I would like to introduce you to one.
Her name is Amy. She is, by her description, a dwarf with "high-functioning autism" and "premature lung disorder." She longs to live independently with help from aides paid through one of the Medicaid home- and community-based services waivers. The 41-year-old requires help with cooking, housework and other tasks. Currently, she relies on family and friends for this help.
Some may think this situation is not so bad. In the past, families traditionally took care of "unfortunate cripples" and "mental defectives." Though no one would seriously use those terms today, many think families and friends are enough.
But what if Amy's family members become stressed because of disease, divorce or any number of other modern problems and aren't there to, say, remind Amy to take her medication?
Or what about someone who has serious behavioral issues? What if one of these people on a waiting list did not get his meds because he lacked an aide to remind him, and became violent in a store?
It is no longer prudent to view the seriously disabled as somehow apart from the rest of society. People like Amy are very much integrated into it. And what hurts them eventually will hurt us all.
So the cuts must be rethought, not for purely altruistic motives alone but for us all. What is good for Amy is indeed good for Kansas.