From The Candidates

Making a Difference asked the Republican and Democrat gubernatorial and Senate candidates their insight on issues important to our readers. Read what they have to say and remember to cast your vote on November 4, 2014.

Candidate Questions

1. What ways would your administration enhance the resources available to people with disabilities in terms of employment, Medicaid expansion or waivers?
2. The unemployment rate is high for people with disabilities. How do you hope to address employment for people with disabilities?
3. One out of five or 20% of all Americans have some type of disability as an occurrence of birth, injury or longevity and most people are likely to have a loved one, neighbor or co-worker with a disability. Have you had personal ties to someone with a disability or the disability community? How does that affect your stand on policies?

We must strive as a State and nation to empower all citizens and that starts with igniting economic opportunities and job growth, managing healthcare effectively, and providing accessible educational opportunities.All Georgians need access to affordable healthcare that meets their needs and that's why it's important that we expand Medicaid. Georgia's Medicaid waiver program provides individuals with disabilities necessary support so they can live independently. We need to protect and broaden the accessibility of educational programs for
those across the spectrum of developmental disability. Policy makers must continue to maintain and build upon the provisions of IDEA so that all individuals with disabilities can have the right to an equality of opportunity to be independent and achieve economic self-sufficiency.
My hero and family friend Rafa San Miguel lost his hearing as an infant. He is a scientist at The Coca-Cola Company and the father of three boys. He is a Boy Scout leader, church leader, inventor, and in his spare time he teaches low-income kids about science with eye-popping experiments. He and his wife Betsy have inspired me to understand the opportunities associated with fully tapping into the talents of people with disabilities. I think we have a tremendous opportunity as a nation to ensure that we give all people who live with disabilities the chance to live out their unique and great talents and thereby enhance our communities, grow our economy and strengthen our nation.

I believe it is extremely important to ensure that all Georgians, especially those who are most vulnerable in our communities, have the resources and support they need to get good jobs to provide for themselves and their families. My wife Bonnie was a school teacher who helped children with disabilities and special needs. I also come from a family of educators and understand how important it is to work together to help more parents and children with special needs live happy, healthy and productive lives. As a United States Senator, I am determined to use my 40 years of business experience to help grow our economy and create more economic opportunity for everyone. Additionally, a strong vibrant economy is necessary to adequately fund our budget priorities.

Race for Governor

The future I see for Georgia is one where nobody gets left out. That means that we have to do everything in our power to make sure that all people have access to opportunities to succeed. Georgia can, and must do better serving its citizens with disabilities. In the last several years, the state government has drastically cut job training, counseling and rehabilitation programs that could be helping people with disabilities get jobs and gain independence. Today, Georgians with disabilities face a higher unemployment rate and greater poverty. As governor, I will make sure that we take advantage of every resource available to serve Georgians with disabilities.


Governor Deal strongly supports ongoing work by the Dept. of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), Dept. of Community Health (DCH) and the General Assembly to make inclusive community-based living a reality for all Georgians with disabilities. Being able to live in one's own home, get a good job and be active contributors to our economy is, after all, central to the pursuit of the American Dream. That's why Governor Deal's budgets have included funding to increase access to Medicaid waiver services and supports that give Georgians with disabilities the tools they need to succeed and thrive. Governor Deal emphasized during Disability Day at the Capitol this year – on the 15th anniversary of the Olmstead decision – we're not done yet. He looks forward to continued input from the disability community, providers, employers and families as we navigate complex issues in pursuit of a common goal: afford every Georgian, regardless of disability, the opportunity to live independently and pursue a career of their choosing. Job creation is his number one priority as Governor, and supporting employment opportunities for Georgians with disabilities is a big part of that effort. Under Governor Deal's leadership, Georgia has taken important steps to expand post-secondary inclusive education to equip students with the skills needed to succeed in a job. Recently, Kennesaw State University's Academy for Inclusive Learning was bolstered with additional state funding and a new post-secondary inclusive education program at South Georgia's East Georgia State College will open its doors to new students very soon. Governor Deal has also tasked DBHDD's work group dedicated to addressing barriers to employment for Georgians with disabilities to recommend how best the State can move forward with an Employment First Initiative.

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