WHEREAS, based on many years of experience, the National Federation of the Blind has long believed that state funded programs for the blind are so unique that they are most effectively delivered through a separate agency, with its own budget, reporting directly to the governor and legislature; and
WHEREAS, State Services for the Blind (SSB) is the primary agency empowered to provide vocational rehabilitation, independent living, and Communication Center services to blind Minnesotans; and
WHEREAS, since 1985, SSB has been a branch within the Minnesota Department of Economic Security (MDES); and
WHEREAS, SSB's time in MDES - particularly during the administration of the current Commissioner, Earl Wilson - has been fraught with instances in which consideration of the best interests of blind citizens has been obliterated by the pursuit of the more general goals of MDES; and
WHEREAS, recent instances include (1) the extensive use of SSB's funding and staff resources for departmental functions; (2) two reorganizations of SSB's internal structure, resulting in many clients being required to switch counselors twice within a two-month period; and
WHEREAS, Commissioner Earl Wilson has demonstrated repeatedly, both through his actions and through his communication with the blind of Minnesota, that he believes categorical services to be undesirable and that he views the blind of Minnesota as, at best, an obstacle in his path rather than a group whom he was appointed to serve; now, therefore,
BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota, in convention assembled this fifth day of November in the city of Mankato, that this organization renew its efforts to secure legislation to remove State Services for the Blind (SSB) from the Minnesota Department of Economic Security and to elevate SSB to a free-standing agency, reporting directly to the Governor and the state legislature.