On March 4, Governor Charlie Baker released his 2016 budget. Advocates were fearful of the impact of the state’s budget deficit. As noted in State House News, Gov. Baker inherited a growing economy, along with mid-year significant state budget problems, when he assumed office in January.
The Baker administration supported some key increases in DDS funding including residential, adult autism services and other areas. These include:
- Residential increase which provides supports for those who turned 22 years of age last year and need full year services as well as full Ch. 257 funding for rates
- Adult Autism Services at $12.3 Million which includes 2015’s $5.4 Million and $6.9 Million in new funding for 2016
- Additional Transportation dollars but short of what is needed for full rate increases and/or some client funding for 2016
- Annualized the employment blueprint funding from 2015 but no new money to continue implementation this year
But as we feared, the budget is short in key accounts as well. Secretary Mary Lou Sudders ran an open meeting with stakeholders reviewing specific areas and how the administration avoided cuts made in the past by other administrations. Adult dental has survived in MassHealth and only one provider service (chiropractor) was eliminated. Several times during the call she said her staff would provide follow up information on specific questions asked by stakeholders.
Our initial analysis includes the following impacts on our community:
- Family Support – $5 Million shortfall as noted by the Secretary. This also means no new money for those 10,000 under and unserved families—the budget was at $54 Million last year; all adult autism dollars are included in this account for both 2015 and 2016- at approx. $12 mill which should bring the account total to $65-66 Million. Also remember that a 9C cut of $2.5 Mil. was made by the Patrick administration in the fall. We hope that there will be a new adult autism line item and we will continue to identify an account # as a placeholder. The account doesn’t exist but thankfully the dollars do.
- Employment Funding – missing full year funding ($12.7M) for students who turned 22 during FY’15 and began to receive assistance; cuts are said to be projected for supplemental funding for those in day habilitation centers who need more assistance
- Turning 22 – We need $10 Million for year 1 for students turning 22 in 2016 – we assume this will exceed 800 students-this would be an increase of $3.5M.
- Employment blueprint – full funding for 2 years of blueprint equals $11.4 Million –this is about a $6M increase.
- DESE –DDS –language needed for education account to insure money continues to be available for the program- -this seems to be required annually of late.
- Of course we have several other accounts for which we have listed requests in our fact sheet—a new fact sheet developed with ADDP will be posted soon.
Other accounts were level funded affecting much needed programs in our community. These are some hard reductions but we are in the first step in the FY16 budget process. The next steps will include the release of the House budget and the Senate budget — more news to come. To review a budget chart see the attachment.