You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myStatesman.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myStatesman.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myStatesman.com.

Disability advocates blockade Abbott’s office; seek pay for attendants


The protest began outside the governor’s Capitol office at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, and the protesters intended to stay until they had an opportunity to talk to Gov. Greg Abbott or were forcibly removed.

The governor’s office said he was unavailable for the former. And his staff, facing a group that included many in wheelchairs, had no inclination to order the latter.

As chants for Abbott to come out rose and echoed in the Capitol rotunda, it was not clear if and when state police on the scene would seek to end the occupation.

Roughly 30 advocates for those with disabilities were demanding that he press the budget conference committee to raise the pay of community-based home care attendants to $10 an hour.

Right now, the base wage for those attendants is $7.86 an hour, without any benefits, sick leave or vacation, which the advocates say makes it hard to find and retain people who can help the elderly and those with disabilities who are eligible for Medicaid. Attendants assist with the basic tasks of everyday life and enable their clients to stay in their homes and out of nursing facilities.

The House budget would add $60 million to the state Health and Human Services Commission to increase that wage by 14 cents an hour. The Senate budget would add $38 million, increasing it by 11 cents an hour. The governor’s budget proposal asked for $105.3 million to “recruit and retain personal attendants,” increasing the base pay by 40 cents, but still well shy of the $10 that advocates said would make the work competitive with the fast-food industry.

Bob Kafka of the disability rights group ADAPT of Texas, said it would cost $480 million over two years to raise the base wage to $10 an hour.

“It’s criminal that people essential to our survival can’t feed their kids,” said Jennifer McPhail, another ADAPT organizer, who has cerebral palsy.

Abbott, who is also in a wheelchair, was not in his office through the duration of the demonstration.

A little before 6 p.m., Dominos delivered 10 boxes of pizza and bottled water the protesters had ordered.

But state police would not allow food in the stately Governor’s Reception Room, where nine of the protesters were encamped. Out of solidarity, the larger contingent just outside the entrance to the Reception Room refused to eat without their comrades, so the pizza boxes stood stacked and unopened.

But Joe Tate, another organizer, took advantage of the pizza’s arrival to ask the deliveryman how much he earned.

“Sixteen dollars an hour,” he said, to huzzahs.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Sen. Estes taking long view on failure of his Muny legislation
Sen. Estes taking long view on failure of his Muny legislation

Sens. Craig Estes, left, and Royce West, author and co-author, respectively, of Senate Bill 822, converse on the Senate floor Feb.
Police: Man shoots former business partner at Round Rock auto shop
Police: Man shoots former business partner at Round Rock auto shop

An Austin man shot his former business partner at an auto shop in Round Rock on Saturday, according to an arrest affidavit. Omar Dontae Sypho, 33, was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The business partner, who was taken to St. David’s Hospital in Round Rock with...
Police say Austin city employee stored child porn on work computer
Police say Austin city employee stored child porn on work computer

Austin police arrested a city Health Department employee Friday night, accusing him of storing child pornography on his work computer. The arrest of 51-year-old Jeffery Walters ended a monthlong investigation that began when city officials discovered a video that Walters later said he “accidentally” left on a shared computer drive, police...
New valve replacement at Dell Children’s avoids open-heart surgery
New valve replacement at Dell Children’s avoids open-heart surgery

Alyson Hunter knows the pain of having open-heart surgery. She had three heart surgeries by the time she was 7. The first, at birth, was to put in a shunt that would allow her heart to work well enough for her to go home. The next was when she was 11 months old and the last at age 7, to put in a new pulmonary valve. Alyson, 13, was born at 32 weeks...
Texas Senate approves bill to give second chance on crimes
Texas Senate approves bill to give second chance on crimes

The Texas Senate on Monday approved “second-chance” legislation that would let those convicted of one-time, nonviolent misdemeanors to ask a court to seal their criminal record from public view — no matter when it happened. House Bill 3016 applies to Class C misdemeanors and driving while intoxicated with a blood-alcohol concentration...
More Stories