The state rewards those who can work, but won’t. The state punishes those who want to work, but can’t.
Kids change everything. Priorities shuffle and are reduced. Moms and dads are happy to make sacrifices for the kids they love, and of course if you are a parent, you don’t view them as sacrifices.
Now consider that you have just been told that your son or daughter has a lifelong disability and that disability will likely mean a shortened life for your child. Your life becomes a full time job of juggling doctor visits hospitalizations, surgeries, home visits, machines, ramps, and praying. Vacations are now a strange thing other people take.
If you are married, one of the jobs has to go or change. You now have another more than a full time job. If you are single, you now have two or three jobs and your family and friends become part of the care team.
You become irritated when your friends say what a good parent you are for sacrificing, because for you, this is your kid, not a sacrifice, you don’t want sympathy, you want some solutions!
Minnesota does a great job providing care for the disabled, but we sure make it tough on working families with disabled kids. I hear from them every week. All of your extra time and money immediately goes to caring for a disabled child. But the state doesn’t stop there. It wants more. Too much more.
I agree with my friends who say government has to run more like a business. We need to be more efficient. But we don’t want to run the state exactly like a business. Businesses exist to grow and crowd out competition. The state treats families with disabilities like a competitor who needs to be run out of business so that the state can take over.
Families need a little breathing room. But for moms and dads who have kids with disabilities, the state is breathing down their necks hounding them for making any money that puts them out of complete dependency.
I have often been criticized for holding the view that those who can work should work if they receive government services. Full time students, moms and dads, yes them too. Work should be valued because it allows people to break free from dependency. As crazy as it sounds, we reward people who can work, but refuse to, while we punish those who want to work but can’t because the state prevents it.
When we punish disabled people for working, or confiscate all of the money a family with a disabled child makes until they quit their jobs, we are failing. It’s not Minnesotan. It’s just mean.
I’m proud of the work done by members of the HHS committee this year and last. Rep Zerwas and Rep Albright have done great work in helping families with disabilities maintain dignity and ability to work.
Rep. Matt Dean (R-Dellwood) is chair of the Minnesota House Health and Human Services Committee.