Gov. Greg Abbott used his own story, his rise from the accident 30 years ago that left him paralyzed and using a wheelchair, to inspire others Tuesday in a speech during his inauguration ceremony on the Capitol grounds in Austin.
A young man’s life “can literally be broken in half,” he said, “and yet he can still rise up and be governor of this great state.”
For about 20 guests in wheelchairs, his office arranged a special reserved section. It was a symbolic yet important gesture.
Abbott “seems willing to hear us,” Bob Kafka of ADAPT, a disability-rights group, told Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy.
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The governor can do much more than listen.
Texas has enormous governmental agencies charged with helping disabled people achieve their own personal successes.
Extensive investigations by the Sunset Advisory Commission have disclosed inefficiencies in organization and wasteful practices at some of those agencies, limiting their ability to serve those they are supposed to serve.
The Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services, for example, was reorganized two years ago under legislative supervision. Still, more changes are necessary, the Sunset staff found.
Services that were supposed to have been reorganized still “operate in separate silos within DARS,” the staff report says, “wasting precious funds through duplicative administration.”
DARS employees in 131 field offices lack sufficient operating guidelines and have an inconsistent case review process.
The agency does not take full advantage of state workforce and education systems to help find employment for clients, the Sunset report says.
DARS is part of of the $34.5 billion-a-year Health and Human Services Commission, itself proposed for a massive overhaul.
A contracting scandal at HHS endangers that overhaul. Millions of dollars may have been spent without proper controls.
Abbott might do nothing better for disabled Texans than, with the Legislature, get this mess straightened out and these important agencies back on track.