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Fri Feb 24 15:14:43 CST 2012
Snyder shakes up state services for blind, disabled
11:16 AM, February 24, 2012 |
Detroit Free Press Lansing Bureau
LANSING – Gov. Rick Snyder today ordered a shake-up in state services for the disabled, including the elimination of the Michigan Commission for the Blind.
Snyder, through an executive order, also announced that Michigan Rehabilitation Services, which helps disabled people find jobs and independence and was
strongly criticized in a recent state audit, will be moved to the Department of Human Services from the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
The moves are intended to improve efficiency and oversight, officials said.
“We’re reshaping state government so it offers a more intuitive, effective and efficient system of services,” Snyder said in a news release. As a result
of the changes, “our blind and visually impaired residents will have better access to comprehensive information and resources.”
The Commission for the Blind will have some of its powers and functions moved from Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to the Department of Technology, Management
and Budget and others moved to the Department of Human Services, Snyder announced.
The state’s residential school for the blind, the Michigan Commission for the Blind Training Center in Kalamazoo, is moving to the Department of Human Services.
The commission’s Business Enterprise Program, under which blind and other disabled people operate stores, vending machines and other services inside state
buildings, is moving to the Department of Technology, Management and Budget.
Snyder announced the creation of the Blind and Visually Impaired Services Advisory Board and a Michigan Council for Rehabilitation Services, both within
the Department of Human Services.
Along with the Commission for the Blind, which served about 2,750 state residents in 2010, the order abolishes the position of director of the commission,
which since 1997 has been held by Patrick D. Cannon, who is blind. He could not immediately be reached for comment.
The commission, with a staff of about 110, has an office in Lansing and eight field offices across the state. In addition to the school for the blind, it
oversees the Braille and Talking Book Library in Lansing.
The order also eliminates the Michigan Rehabilitation Council and the Disability Concerns Commission.
The changes are to take effect in 60 days.
A January report from Michigan Auditor General Thomas McTavish identified weak financial controls and questionable spending in Michigan Rehabilitation Services,
including buying a $31,000 vehicle for a woman who only wanted to be a homemaker and didn’t need a car for work.
The agency spent about $114 million to service about 51,000 disabled people in 2009-10.
McTavish said the agency failed to show public funds were properly spent and failed to recover expensive equipment from people with physical or mental disabilities
who left the program and no longer needed it.
Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or
pegan at freepress.com
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