On Tuesday, June 10, The Arc of Massachusetts attended a hearing before the Massachusetts Legislature’s Higher Education Committee in support of H218 and S756, “A bill to create higher educational opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities, autism, and other developmental disabilities who have exited special education.”
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).