Winston Churchill said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” Tanya Teglo said this today as she spoke during the PA Senate roundtable at the Barber National Institute that focused on recent changes by the Dept. of Public Welfare. Tanya is an Erie county resident with two bachelor’s degrees and masters in social science. She is an active member of the community and advocate for individuals with physical disabilities. Tanya herself has cerebral palsy and knows firsthand the impact that some of these decisions have had on her care, her responsibility as an employer, and the damaging effects this will have on the future. She was one of eight human service providers and consumers, four state Senators and 50 plus members of the community who participated in today’s roundtable discussion.
One of the main issues addressed was the reclassification of Erie from an urban to a rural county. Many commented on how this change affects everyone in Erie County because it changes the perception of Erie. We have the largest locomotive plant in the world, four universities, the largest medical school in the country, and we are the fourth largest city in Pennsylvania. We definitely are an urban community, yet the DPW ignored these facts and relegated us to a rural status with the lowest reimbursement rates in the state. The impact of this change means significant decreases in funding, not only for children and adults with disabilities, but it also speaks to the quality of life in the great lakes region.
I encourage you to write to your local legislators telling them to appeal to the Governor to reclassify Erie to urban status. This takes courage, but I have faith in the people of our community and that collectively we can make a difference.
For more information on the roundtable discussion and classification, check out Wednesday’s editorial from the Erie Times-News.