Karen O'Connor wakes at 8 a.m. every day, and like many people, has a routine.
She takes a shower, brushes her teeth, gets dressed and eats breakfast before leaving to run errands -- maybe a trip to the grocery store or a doctor's visit.
But unlike many people, O'Connor needs the help of another person with every step of her routine.
She was one of several people who spoke at a news conference Wednesday at the Southeast Washington Aging & Long Term Care office in Kennewick about how additional state cuts to funding for services for people with disabilities will affect their lives and livelihoods.
The 51-year-old Tri-City woman cannot take a shower alone or brush her teeth without help because of the degenerative disease she has lived with since she was 12.
Muscular dystrophy means she needs someone to prepare her food and help her from her wheelchair to bed each night at 8 p.m. -- earlier than she would like to go to bed, but she has no choice because it's the latest she can have help since the state cut her in-home care hours.
And she fears that if the state cuts her hours any more, she will end up in a nursing home.
"I am becoming more dependent on caregivers," she said through an interpreter, because her muscle degeneration makes it hard for her to speak and be understood. "I can't imagine what it would be like without one or with fewer hours."
Gov. Chris Gregoire in late October released a list of proposed cuts she would like the Legislature to consider when it meets in special session Nov. 28 to plug a $2 billion budget hole.
Among the proposed cuts is a change in eligibility for long-term care services that local officials said would eliminatein-home care for 3,100 seniors and people with disabilities who have relied on caregivers to maintain their independence.
Lindsay Hagler, the caregiver who helped O'Connor deliver her message, said cutting back the hours for in-home care doesn't leave caregivers the time they need to properly care for people such as O'Connor -- meaning they may have days they have to choose between bathing and going to the grocery store because the caregiver doesn't have enough hours to do both.
Marcee Woffingden, who runs the local Meals on Wheels program, said the state is proposing a 20 percent cut to her agency -- which translates into 3,100 meals that won't be served to homebound seniors.
Advocates are urging the Legislature to look at ways of raising revenue to avoid cuts, such as raising the license fees for adult family homes and seeking federal matching funds for Medicaid services.
"Money equals meals for us," Woffingden said. "If you are one of those homebound seniors, this can be devastating for you. ... Anybody should be able to have a warm meal at least once a day. Heaven forbid they be told they can't eat."