Senate Ways and Means Report

May 17, 2016

 

The Arc of Massachusetts Senate Ways and Means Report May 17, 2016 The Senate Ways and Means Committee released their version of the FY’17 budget on Tuesday, May 17, 2016. Family support gains were at $6.7 Million; similar to the House and Governor’s budget. In addition, the dollars for Turning 22 were increased by $1 Million relative to the House budget. Next year, DDS (Dept. Developmental Services) projects that there will be nearly 975 students needing Turning 22 services or funding. Ways and Means also continues $250,000 of funding to address issues of aging such as dementia; not mentioned in the House budget. Thank you to Chair Karen Spilka and the committee for all of these positive developments.

 

However, two community line items were reduced and those are Transportation and Day/Employment services for a combined total of $1.7 Million.

 

The Arc is concerned that both versions of the budget have shortfalls in employment and residential supports and reflect lower numbers than the Governor’s budget recommendation for DDS. This year’s 901 students who turned 22 will need some day or employment support in 2017. This and a related account also fund the transition away from sheltered work; so the shortfall of $10 Million will affect hundreds of this year’s graduates in the upcoming year. The lack of funding will prevent community inclusion as mandated by Olmstead and the new rule from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

 

We appreciate the positive steps reflected by the Senate ways and means committee. We encourage you to contact your senator about two priority amendments:
  • 5920-2025 Day and employment —- to be filed by Senator Joan Lovely to increase funding by $10.5 million for line item 
  • 5920-2000 Community Residential —-to be filed by Senator Jennifer Flanagan to increase funding for $6.5 million for line item 5920-2000 Community Residential 

We also want to thank Senators Barbara L’Italien, John Keenan, Michael Barrett, Pat Jehlen, Jason Lewis, and Michael Moore who have assisted us early in the process; as well as Senators Lovely and Flanagan. We will produce a full list of senators who supported our concerns after senate debate. 

 

Please contact your senator to co-sponsor Senator Lovely’s and Senator Flanagan’s amendments.  Ask their aide to please have the office phone the respective senators to sign on by Friday.  To obtain your senator’s phone number you can go online to our home page and hit take action—look for elected officials.  If you know your senator’s name you can call 617-722-2000 to be connected to his or her office by phone.

 

Budget debate is expected to start on Tuesday, May 24.

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