Skip to content

Kasich: Stand Up for Developmentally Disabled

Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks during a Town Hall at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Monday, Feb. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)
Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks during a Town Hall at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Monday, Feb. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Molly Riley)

Fairfax, Virginia, Feb. 23 – Gov. John Kasich said it’s just a matter of creating priorities in state and national government in order to help people with disabilities.

“You know what kind of lobby the developmentally disabled have?” Kasich said at a town hall in Fairfax, Virginia, on Monday. “ZERO! Zero. Somebody has to stand up for them.”

In response to a woman asking a question about the needs of her 22-year-old son on the Autism spectrum to live a fulfilling life on his own, Kasich said they have to fix the system.

“You have to reengineer the government to create priorities,” Kasich said on the George Mason University campus. “When you hear these things, you can’t put your head in the sand. You have to figure out a way to fix it. That doesn’t mean we need to fix it by somehow blowing up our finances; it doesn’t mean we need to fix it by being in a position where we have to raise everybody’s taxes.”

Kasich touted his record in Ohio in growing the economy and organizing the budget, discussing the state’s biggest percentage increase being for people with developmental disabilities. He also advocated for businesses to hire people with disabilities.

“This is on all of us,” Kasich said. “You have a business? You can bring some developmentally disabled into your business. We have our hospital system. They are hiring developmentally disabled. Wal-Mart, Myer, grocery stores, your company.”

Seventy percent of working-age Americans with disabilities are out of the workforce (compared to 28 percent of Americans without disabilities), and of those people with disabilities who are working, more than 400,000 are earning sub minimum wage (as little as 20 cents an hour) in sheltered workshops.

The Ohio governor spoke out against sheltered workshops.

“They don’t have to sit in some sheltered workshop being just pushed to the side. That is not right in our country.”

With Super Tuesday approaching, there are only five Republican presidential candidates remaining. Of these five, Kasich is one of just two, along with Dr. Ben Carson, who has responded to the #PwDsVote 2016 Campaign Questionnaire. In addition, the Ohio governor often talks about disability issues on the trail, offering an understanding of the needs of people with disabilities.

Since he entered the presidential race in July 2015, Kasich has been consistent in his advocacy for people with disabilities, especially in terms of health care expansion. During Monday’s town hall, he defended his decision to expand Medicare coverage as governor of Ohio. He pointed out that during his presidency “Ronald Reagan expanded Medicare five times” so he did not feel guilty about Medicare expansion, although he touted his opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

Kasich made Ohio an “Employment First” state by executive order, which resulted in an increase in individuals moving into competitive integrated employment. In 2014, 4,580 Ohioans with disabilities were able to find jobs through vocational rehabilitation services provided by the reformed and renamed Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD). One of the best programs to help people with disabilities pursue the American Dream originated in Ohio—Project SEARCH. It has been able to successfully recruit, train and place thousands of people with disabilities into jobs in 43 states across the country. Project SEARCH is achieving a 70 percent success rate in transitioning students with disabilities into competitive, integrated employment. It is a win-win-win model for how to serve the interests of people with disabilities, employers and taxpayers as well.

While there have been gains in jobs for people with disabilities, more work remains to be done in Ohio. There are 812,500 Ohioans with disabilities and, of that number, only 33.5 percent are employed. While additional funding by the General Assembly has eliminated all waiting lists for vocational rehabilitation services, much more work is needed in order to improve employment outcomes for people with disabilities in the Buckeye State.

The progress being made in Ohio has been hampered by the fact that the state returned $18,215,538 to Washington. This hurts economic prospects for people with disabilities–especially the 50,300 Ohioans between the ages of 16 to 20–by not continuing to fund these vocational rehabilitation programs. State vocational rehabilitation programs operate by having the federal government give four dollars for every dollar that is spent by the individual state. However, if the states fail to spend the money or come up with matching funds, then the funds are returned to Washington, D.C.

Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks during a Town Hall at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Monday, Feb. 22, 2016.
Republican presidential candidate, Ohio Gov. John Kasich speaks during a Town Hall at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., Monday, Feb. 22, 2016.
Published inJohn KasichRepublicans


  1. Cynthia Lacki Cynthia Lacki

    I was the admission caseworker in a “workshop” program. This was a wonderful setting to prepare many for community placement. There were also many people who were served wholly in this environment. Closure of workshops is a huge mistake for thousands of people! It is a set up for many many people to become couch potatoes. This trend is going backwards …. Very sad!

    • Jennifer Jennifer

      Agree, the workshops are important. Kasich is dirty and lying, he doesn’t advocate for those with disabilities. He’s actually tried multiple times to get rid of independent provider nurses for special needs families. He has an approved plan in place now to do just that, it’s heartbreaking how many families are in desperate need of nurses but can’t find anyone because Kasich has cut pay and made it clear that he will phase out that job in favor of agency care.

    • Alan Kurtz Alan Kurtz

      The research is very clear. Only a very small percentage of those who attend sheltered workshops ever become employed. There is also research showing that individuals with autism spectrum disorders receiving supported employment services have a higher quality of life than those in sheltered workshops.

    • Maura Wachsberger Maura Wachsberger

      I would like to invite Kasich to visit cp nassau so he could see the devastating effects of the closure of sheltered workshops has had on 120 people with developmental disabilities. He is basing his views on 1 person and doesn’t see the people who due to the severity of their disabilities, will never be able to be employed.

  2. Jennifer Jennifer

    As a mother of a special needs child, a nurse that takes care of special needs children and an Ohioan this man is full of crap. Ask the people of his own state what he has done? If anything he’s actually been caught doing the exact opposite, this is the last person I want for the republican vote. He is lying, he cut nursing pay and has put in plans to rid special needs families of independent provider nurses. This has made it nearly impossible for so many families to get reliable nursing services in their homes. Daily I see posts of parents begging for nurses to come work in their home to care for their vent dependent children since all of their staff quit because of kasich’s changes so they can actually go to work and pay the mortgage. Seven years ago it was rare for me to meet a family that didn’t have multiple people wanting the same job, now parents can’t even get people to interview. Kasich doesn’t care, he’ll cut funds for the disabled just as quick as he can. He has an entire community that wishes he would go. I’m tired of seeing friends of mine and the children I care for suffer because of him. So don’t for a second believe that he cares at all about the disabled, he just wants another vote.

  3. Alice Alice

    I am a member of a DD board and I can tell you Kasich is lying about many aspects of Medicaid. Our most medically fragile developmentally disabled are losing services for private duty nursing AND the Ohio Department of Medicaid has been planning this since 2013 and his Medicaid expansion came out 2014 and the cuts began. These are people who are totally dependent on others for life sustaining help and Kasich’s Director of ODM have instructed the assessing nurses to deny services after the recipients have had this service for 8-10 years. Kasich is not being honest about his Medicaid expansion and there should be an investigation!!!!!!
    By the way, read this quickly because others who have posted similar messages have been removed from this site!!!

  4. Alice Alice

    my message was not posted and message sent said I had duplicated and I have never written on this site before.

  5. john john

    my granddaughter has Rett Syndrome and received private duty nursing for 5 years. Now that Kasich is cutting PDN services so he can expand Medicaid, my granddaughter’s services are being cut!! Last time I tried to post a comment it was vetoed! What say you Kasich?

  6. The governor also sought to ensure that the Individualized Education Program sets up goals related to community employment for developmentally disabled students beginning at age 14.

  7. Titletown Mike Titletown Mike

    Shame on him. I’ll bet he’s never been inside a Community Rehabilitation Program in Ohio. If I lived in Ohio I would be livid.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *