FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 26, 2014
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AUSTIN -- Last night, Senator Jane Nelson, Chair of the Sunset Advisory Commission, appointed Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa as Chairman of a Subcommittee to Study the Potential Closures of State Supported Living Centers (SSLCs). The Sunset Advisory Commission held their first hearings the last two days that lasted late into the night with hundreds of people testifying on various issues -- with SSLCs being one of the most controversial issues.
Texas houses 13 SSLCs that are state-run residential facilities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They are campus-based 24 hour direct services facilities that are overseen by the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS). The Sunset staff report expressed serious concerns with the safety, quality, and enormous costs associated with these facilities as well as the declining number of residents housed in these facilities and recommended that the Austin SSLC be shut down along with five others. There has since been an outpouring of public comments and concerns -- many wishing to shut some down, while many fighting to keep them all open.
"We need a solution that recognizes the critical services that SSLCs provide to so many of our residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families, but that also addresses the safety and quality control issues, the aging infrastructure, and the enormous budget costs associated with running these facilities. I am honored to chair this subcommittee and am looking forwarded to a coordinated approach with members and stakeholders to develop a plan that will set up criteria to evaluate the effectiveness of these SSLCs while at the same time improving community-based services," stated Senator Hinojosa.
The agencies under sunset review that were discussed at the hearing include University Interscholastic League (UIL) and four health and human services agencies -- Department of Assistive and Rehabilitation Services (DARS), Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), Department of State Health Services (DSHS), and Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS).
The Sunset Advisory Commission is a 12 member legislative commission tasked with identifying and eliminating waste, duplication, and inefficiencies in or government agencies. It is composed of fie State Senators, five State Representatives, and two public members. The Commission reviews policies and programs of state agencies and recommends reforms, improvements, changes, dissolution of agencies, elimination of wasteful programs and any other changes that are needed to ensure transparent, cost-effective, and productive state programs.
Public participation is a key aspect of the Sunset Review process. The Commission seeks public input through hearings on every agency under Sunset review and recommends actions on each agency to the full Legislature in the next Session.