The Arc of Massachusetts (The Arc) celebrates the release of the Massachusetts House Ways and Means Budget announced by Chair Jeffrey Sánchez. Leo Sarkissian, Executive Director of The Arc, stated, “Chair Sánchez and the House Ways/Means Committee members not only recognized the importance of Turning 22 for graduating students with special needs, but have raised Family Support and Employment funding by a total of 2 Million dollars.”
Governor Baker’s proposed budget for FY 2019 again keeps pace with the DDS Turning 22 program as more than 1,000 students graduate into adult services. In addition, a $5 Million increase is budgeted for Autism Omnibus which addresses those newly eligible with autism[i].
On July 7, the Conference Committee lowered state budget line items– including DDS — due to the continued uncertainty of state revenues. On July 17, Governor Charlie Baker vetoed an additional $320 million on top of the legislature’s reduction, including a cut of more than $7 million from the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) budget. The impact of these reductions means uncertainty for many people. These decisions were also affected by the continued uncertainty caused by Capitol Hill policy makers. Although we believe that the legislature will override the Governor’s vetoes, we don’t know for certain and, of course, will advocate for further dollars given the needs of people who are served by the Department of Developmental Disabilities.