Big news yesterday! PA State Rep. Bryan Cutler and Rep. Dan Miller released their co-sponsorship memorandum announcing they will be introducing Employment First legislation in 2017. The #IWantToWork campaign thanks PA State Rep. Bryan Cutler and Rep. Dan Miller for continuing to be champions for Pennsylvanians with disabilities. Read the memorandum below.
House of Representatives
Session of 2017 – 2018 Regular Session
We plan to soon introduce “The Employment First Act,” designed to promote the employment of people with disabilities at competitive wages by Pennsylvania employers.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the creation of the MH/MR Act of 1966. In place of state institutional care, it provided a system of home and community-based services for people with disabilities. One of the results of the law is that all too often people with disabilities – especially those with intellectual disabilities – spend their days working in segregated facilities where they are paid wages well below the minimum wage.
It is time for Pennsylvania to more fully live up to the promises of deinstitutionalization and home and community-based living, where people with disabilities have the opportunity to work at competitive wages in a wide range of jobs in the private and public sectors. Pennsylvania businesses face a serious workforce shortage, with more than 200,000 job vacancies posted on any given day on the state’s official job listing. More and more employers in Pennsylvania are finding that people with disabilities are productive, responsible, and dependable employees. National research and pilot programs in Pennsylvania have proven that the employment of people with disabilities at competitive wages can work for businesses and for people with disabilities.
This legislation will not require additional budgeted state spending, but will instead require Commonwealth agencies to shift priorities within existing budgets. This legislation will help people with disabilities end their lifetime dependence on governmental assistance by focusing state agencies’ efforts on helping them obtain employment and becoming taxpayers.
Finally, this state legislation is consistent with recent changes in federal law governing vocational rehabilitation services and workforce development programs, as well as federal regulations governing services to people with intellectual disabilities. People with disabilities deserve a real opportunity to join the Pennsylvania workforce and become contributing members of society in their communities.