The Senate has begun the review process for their version of the FY’17 Budget with an expected release date of May 17th. Part of that effort involves The Arc and other providers working with Senators to advocate for budget line items that will benefit those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The final House version of the budget line items closely reflected the same amounts that were listed in the governor’s budget. The hope is to have additional increases especially in two line items DDS 5920-2000 (Community Residential) and DDS 5920-2025 (Day and Employment Services). One of the major concerns is the impact of the 979 students who will turn 22. Without the additional funding, they may lose services and employment.
S1179 / H1932 passed through the Joint Committee on Public Health and is on its way! We have had great support this session for the medical and health professional training bill focusing in on the unique health care needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities including autism. This legislation provides a certification through the Commonwealth of Massachusetts using the Operation House Call training model. Thank you to our dedicated leaders at the state house, Senator Jason Lewis, Senator Barbara L’Italien, and Rep Carolyn Dykema for their insights and collaboration. The Arc is thankful for the support of our constituents, the Operation House Call families across Massachusetts and our Government Affairs Committee.
The Conference Committee, chaired by Rep. Brian Dempsey and Senator Karen Spilka, released a very positive report last night, July 7, 2015. Thank you to all conferees. As we went into Conference Committee we were concerned about potential shortfalls entering this fiscal year (which started on July 1). We hope and trust that the full legislature will approve the budget and that Gov. Baker will not veto any of our line items.
The Senate budget included several high points for the disability community — it addresses the Family Support reduction originally in House One with funding that restores proposed cut in House 1 and adds, $1.45 Million for needed services; an additional $500,000 above House 1 for Turning 22, additional dollars for Children’s Autism Waiver Services and safeguards AFC caregiver respite for 2016 among other things (EI-$1 Mil. shortfall fixed, etc.)