BOSTON– In an effort to mitigate the staggering rate of unemployment for adults with disabilities in the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts House of Representatives, under the leadership and sponsorship of State Representative Nick Collins inserted language into its version of the state’s FY’18 budget that will require state sub-contractors to employ at least 10 percent individuals with disabilities.
State Representative Nick Collins (D- South Boston) has spent the last four years crafting a solution that would address this economic disparity for more than 300,000 of the Commonwealth’s citizens who receive some form of disability assistance from the state or federal government but would rather be employed. The language was heartily endorsed by House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey and other members of the Legislature.
The unemployment rate for SSDI recipients in Massachusetts, according to the most recent figures compiled by the Social Security Administration, was 80.7 percent. “That is much too high, and it’s an economic inequity that we cannot let stand” said Rep. Collins. “This bill is step one in correcting the disparity; creating economic mobility for the disability community, generating significant economic impact, and securing Massachusetts’ leadership in economic opportunity for all its residents.”
The language calls for state sub-contractors working in the areas of janitorial and custodial services, landscaping services, mailroom support, culinary arts, fleet management, manufacturing; trash removal, document destruction, electronic scanning of documents, facility management and other services to meet a threshold of 10 percent employees with disabilities upon being awarded a contract by a state agency.
“Any effort that levels the playing field for individuals with disabilities who can, and are most importantly, able, to engage in full-time employment is a positive for the state,” said Christine Griffin, executive director of the Disability Law Center in Boston. “People should not be discriminated against from work opportunities just because they have a disability. That is wrong and we should not allow it to happen as a society.”
The Senate now crafts its version of the budget, and then the legislature sends a final budget to the Governor for his signature. Continued efforts will be made to include is important legislation in the final version.