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.
We are grateful for the continued funding for the Turning-22 program, which supports individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) now graduating from high school in need of adult services. And for the increase in the DESE-DDS line item, which helps families stay together when a child is at risk of an out of home placement. We are also thankful for the boost of $300,000 above the Governor’s budget for the Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative (MAICEI), which provides more access to college courses and learning opportunities for people with autism or I/DD.
In addition, the Senate budget included $500,000 for the Autism Children’s Waiver which is also in front of the Conference Committee. The transportation amendment for $750,000 was accepted and will service another 125 individuals. These are all critical line items that impact our community across the lifespan.
However, there are still significant shortfalls for the disability community.
Please take a few minutes to use our customizable template to reach out to your legislator and ask him or her to support our Budget Line items in Conference.
The following line-items are under consideration:
1. $3.5 million (House) in Family Support and Respite: DDS Line item 5920-3000
Although 12,000 served, many receive minimal funding, while another 8,000 unserved.
2. $3.4 million (House) in Community Day and Employment: DDS Line item 5920-2025
895 people are being served but not getting enough hours, 300 people are not getting employment services and funding is needed to addressing changing needs, staffing ratios due to transition from sheltered workshops, and, compliance with Olmstead and CMS regulations.
3. $2.5 million (House) in Autism Omnibus: DDS Line Item 5920-3020
Turning-22 is being addressed, but other individuals with autism who are older are not yet receiving funding. We request an additional $2.5 million for the over 500 individuals not currently served.
4. $100,000 (Senate) for Aging with Developmental Disabilities: DDS Line Item 5920-3025
Thousands of individuals with DD are over the age of 40 and need more assistance.
Negotiations for the Compromise Budget of the House and Senate will begin next week so your advocacy and action are needed soon. We encourage all to contact your legislators by Friday, June 7th. Using the draft letter below, please contact your Representative and Senator to reach out to the Conference Committee re: these four important line items, customizing the letter with your personal experiences.
If you wish to reach out for further advocacy, the main number at the state house is (617) 722-2000 to reach all House & Senate members.
Thank you for taking time to affect change for people with autism and intellectual and developmental disabilities!