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      Midlands man makes plea for disabilities funding

      COLUMBIA-- As state lawmakers consider slashing the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs' budget, people who receive the department's services are asking for help.

      A legislative committee approved a plan that cuts all services for nearly 26,000 people with disabilities. Lawmakers are trying to cover a $560 million dollar deficit in the state budget.

      Columbia resident Lewis Stephens says those cuts would dramatically change his way of life. "If I get cut, I would lose my job, lose my house, everything I worked for."

      Stephens relies on a DDSN worker each day to help him with daily tasks. "Just the basic things normal people take for granted. Getting out of bed, getting dressed." says Stephens.

      DDSN director Dr. Beverly Buscemi understands the state has to make cuts, but wants lawmakers to reconsider.

      She says, "The services we provide are necessities. Things that help people keep their dignity and pride."

      Dr. Buscemi and others say they'll continue to fight and hope for the best.

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