Worries continue for ADvantage Waiver recipients as legislators break for weekend without budget deal

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STILLWATER, Okla. - Allie Williams is excited.

The Oklahoma State University sophomore, studying music, is following her dream of eventually becoming a teacher. To teach music to others who, like her, are disabled.

"I'm not a statistic. I am extraordinary," she said while at her house that she shares with her friend on the west side of Stillwater.

Williams, 36, has Spinal Muscular Atrophy (a form of Muscular Dystrophy) that has robbed her of her ability to support herself on her own. She requires a motorized wheelchair to move around. Others to help her complete the most basic tasks: cleaning the house, eating, bathing, going to the bathroom.

"I am a very positive person," said Williams. "And so I don't think about the clock. I don't think about when my life is supposed to end."

But she has been thinking about the possible end to the nearly 40-hours of help she receives each week through the state's ADvantage Waiver Program. This week, the Department of Human Services began notifying the more than 20,000 people on the program their services could be cut starting next month, if the legislature doesn't find the money to fix the state's budget shortfall.

"Scrambling to find a way to live, in 30 days. That's a scary timeline," she said, sitting in her home's small living room.

Lawmakers left the capitol for the weekend with no budget meetings planned. The end of the fifth week of the special legislative session, tasked with finding a solution for the $215 million budget shortfall.

Over the summer, the state supreme court ruled a cigarette fee unconstitutional, stripping the money from the budget -- leaving agencies on the hook for administering cuts if a solution can't be found.

DHS officials say they will be forced to cut a total of $69 million from their agency if that's the case.

Williams doesn't want a short-term fix.

"A band-aid is not good enough. I don't want to have to do this every three months. I should not have to fight for the right to stay in my own home every three months because our legislature can't agree," William said.

"My life does not have a price on it. It matters and it should matter to our legislature. And it should matter to everyone."

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