LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - Roughly 3,000 families on the developmental disabilities waitlist, who have waited for years for state help, will soon be at ease thanks to a bill signed by Governor Asa Hutchinson on Friday morning.
The bill, HB 1033, plans to use proceeds from the Arkansas' tobacco settlement to reduce the waiting list. Families on the waiting list are waiting in hopes of obtaining a waiver that would allow home-based services for developmentally disabled children.
Representative Andy Mayberry said the plan is to use $8.5 million from the tobacco settlement and $20 million more would come from federal dollars.
"It's been too long since actions has been taken to reduce the waitlist," Hutchinson said on Twitter.
The passing of this bill is a continuation of Hutchinson's pledge to cut the waiting list in half. In September 2016, Hutchinson announced his intentions to use funds from the tobacco settlement. Funds would provide services from anywhere between 500 and 900 families that are currently on the waitlist.
"We want him to be able to live independently, he doesn't want to live with us anyway," said Dianna Varady, whose son is currently 415th on the waiting list. "Having home and community-based services means that all of that will be possible for him."
(1/2) Happy to sign a bill that will use tobacco settlement funds to address the needs of those on the developmentally disabled waitlist.— Gov. Asa Hutchinson (@AsaHutchinson) January 27, 2017