Last week, Chair Michael Rodrigues and the Senate Ways and Means Committee released their budget that aligns significantly with the Governor’s budget proposal. While we are grateful for the support for Turning 22, the increase of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education partnership program with Department of Developmental Services (DESE-DDS program) – with $300,000 above the Governor’s budget, and other critical line items, there are still significant shortfalls for the disability community.
Thank you to Senators John Keenan, Nick Collins, and James Welch for stepping up to fill in the gaps in this budget with amendments to support additional funding, which include increases in Day and Employment, Transportation, Adult Autism services and an amendment to address the sustainability of the Adult Foster Care (AFC) program. To meet the Day and Employment needs of 895 new graduates and the 300 individuals who need employment supports, the DDS line item 5920-2025 will require a $6.7 million dollar increase over the proposed funding. This $6.7 million will also address changing needs for a more behaviorally and medically complex population and address staff ratios as well.
The Arc is also advocating for increases in the Adults with Autism (line item 5920-3020 for $5.8 million) and Transportation (line item 5911-2000 for $750,000). The AFC amendment will require MassHealth to meet with key stakeholder groups by October 1, 2019 to identify costs associated with operating accredited AFC programs and provide a report by January 1, 2020 on the funding necessary to implement reimbursement rates for AFC services that will ensure sustainability of the program. The Arc will also be pushing for the proposed House funding for Family Support services during the Conference Committee negotiations.
We encourage all to contact their Senators to sign onto to these 4 amendments if their member has not already done so by Monday, May 20. More information about The Arc’s supported amendments may be found at the link below.
Negotiations for the Senate budget has already begun so your advocacy and action are needed this week. Using the draft letter below, please contact your Senator, 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 Senate members.