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February 28, 2011

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The President's Transportation Proposal is great for the country's economic development and great for transit dependent people. Most people in the disability community and many seniors are transit dependent and need to rely on public transportation to access jobs, housing, medical and oter critical services. In California, the State Council on Developmental Disabilities is working on a new policy--Employment First Policy--through its Employment First Committee and is about to issue its report to the Governor and Legislature. Employment First is about taking everyone who wants to work on a job in the communihty and can out of more expensive workshops and day programs and putting them into integrated employment in the community at at least minimum wage. To make the policy work, there must be good systems of public transportation to get clients to and from home and work. This will be an issue in the committee report. In other states and counties in some states, public transportation has been a major barrier to Employment First and has meant that in several states the policy has not worked well. And in some counties in another state the policy has not worked well. In one county in a state that now has Employment First Policy in place, over 100 clients are still in the workshop and just 15 have community jobs because of poor public transportation in the county. For a large number of people, public transportation is not a lifestyle, it is a lifeline service. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

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