2020 Presidential Primary Candidate Survey on Disability
Tulsi Gabbard’s Responses
Employment: What are your views on paying a subminimum wage based on disability?
I don’t believe there should be a subminimum wage for workers with disabilities. I applaud states like New Hampshire who have outlawed this practice but this needs to change at the federal level — my administration will raise the minimum wage and end subminimum wages for workers with disabilities.
Assistive Technology: What do you plan to do to increase access to assistive technology for people with disabilities who need it to effectively and independently engage in their communities?
Assistive technology is essential for the disability community when it comes to healthcare, education, housing and voting. I will instruct federal agencies like HHS, DOE, and HUD to identify and close funding gaps at the state level that limit access to assistive technologies, and I will increase funding for grant programs that empower the disability community.
Special Education: How would you propose to strengthen the IDEA when it is reauthorized so that it truly fulfills its stated purpose of preparing children with disabilities for post-secondary education, employment, and independent living, including children with the most significant disabilities?
Despite significant gains in graduation rates and college enrollment since the passage of IDEA, students with disabilities still face significant barriers to quality education in many districts. My administration will improve data reporting from states to identify statistical disparities regarding specific conditions — this is the first step in identifying which students face the most significant barriers. The next step is working with states to set goals to improve outcomes and offering federal support in the case of funding gaps. Bolstering special education will be part of the comprehensive education plan I put forth in the coming months.
Mental Health Services: What is your vision for a system of services to support people with mental illness?
We have a mental health crisis in this country. Improving access to mental health will be a substantial part of our plan for healthcare and we will work to ensure all communities; rural, urban, and suburban; have an adequate number of mental health providers.
Workforce Shortage: Please explain how you would address this immediate and growing workforce shortage?
The most important way we can address workforce shortages of DSPs — especially in states with older populations like New Hampshire — is through market incentives. We will provide targeted student debt cancellation and cost of living subsidies to attract high-quality DSPs to underserved regions.