Advocacy can mean many things both in regard to what and the how. The what for us is—working toward policies, funding, laws, regulations and other types of outcomes which advance the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families (see our mission here ). On a simple level, the “how” means encouraging, pleading, urging, and providing justification. But it gets more complex when you apply the “how” to “where”. There is the administration of the state or federal government, the legislature, the courts, school committees, etc.
The advancements of our present age didn’t come easily and require vigilance and yes, advocacy. Further advocacy for our cause requires people –anyone who cares about disabilities and wishes to build a good life in the community. Services cost dollars, rights require laws and regulations and understanding takes public education. Much has been done, but there continues to be work to do. The Advocacy pages share areas in which we are most involved and tools. Our priorities evolve over time. This page provides an index of the section and government affairs headlines.
On Sunday night, the House and Senate Conference Committee negotiated a compromise budget bill for FY’2020 (July 1, 2019-June 30, 2020) that includes significant gains for the Commonwealth’s disability community and their families. Yesterday, the House and Senate voted to approve this budget and it was sent to the Governor who now has 10 days to review the budget bill and make decisions on what to approve, veto or return with proposed changes.
The FY2020 budget is currently in Conference Committee and we need your help so that the highest amount of funding possible for our priorities is agreed upon by the two branches. The Conference Committee is composed of the House and Senate Ways and Means Chairs, Senator Michael Rodrigues and Rep. Aaron Michlewitz, and Vice-Chairs, Senator Cindy Friedman and Rep. Denise Garlick, and Senior minority members, Senator Viriato deMacedo and Rep. Todd Smola, to resolve differences in the House and Senate budgets and draft a compromise budget proposal.
The Senate and the House are moving into the final stages of their work on the FY’20 budget. Both chambers have finalized their budgets and the remaining work rests with the Conference Committee that must settle the differences of each line item from each budget.
The Conference Committee is made of three members each from the Senate and House Ways and Means Committees. This includes the Chair and Vice Chair of each committee and the ranking minority member from each committee. The Conference Committee members include Senators Michael Rodrigues, Cindy Friedman, and Vinny deMacedo; as well as Representatives Aaron Michlewitz, Denise Garlick, and Todd Smola.
We are watching closely four DDS line items where three of the House final numbers were greater than the Senate numbers. The Respite and Family Support line item (5920-3000) in the House budget was $3.5M more than the Senate version. The Community Day and Work line item (5920-2025) in the House was $3.4M more than the Senate version. The Autism Omnibus line item (5920-3020) in the House was $2.5M more than the Senate version. Finally, the Aging with Developmental Disabilities line item (5920-3025) was $100K more in the Senate than in the House version.
Now is the time to reach out our Representatives and Senators, urging them to contact the Conference Committee members and to ask them to support the budget version that best serves individuals and families. Deliberations by the Conference Committee are slated to begin next week, so action now is important. Now is the time to call your legislator (617-722-2000).
Click the images of the Conference Committee members below to be taken to their legislative profile (including direct contact information).
With the Senate budget deliberations finished up, The Arc has prepared our Conference Committee requests for our final advocacy push in the budget cycle. Here is a quick summary of our request to the chairs of Ways and Means and the other Conference Committee members.