Conference Committee Priorities – Time to Act

FY 2015 Conference Committee Budget Update

budget_1-300x199The recently completed House and Senate budgets made significant investments in services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who receive services from the Department of Developmental Services (DDS). Most notably was the investment to fund increases in the rate paid for long term residential services through CH257 – the first such rate increase in close to thirty years. Transportation also received an increase over last year. The DESE/DDS program and Turning 22 were level funded from last year and there was a slight increase in the Autism Services line item.

The House budget included a 2.5M increase over last year for the Family Supports program. State Operated homes, Service Coordination, and MassHealth were also higher in the House.

The Senate budget included a 5M reserve in funding for the employment initiative to place more individuals into integrated, community-based employment. Community Residential and MRC employment were also higher in the Senate.

You now have an opportunity to weigh in on budgetary line items by asking your legislators to advocate for funding which benefits DDS services and supports. In the coming days, please directly appeal to your representative and senator to request support for additional funding within the following three items:

1- Family Support (5920-3000) – House funding at $54,933,705 which is 2.5M higher than the Senate.

2- Support for House Outside Section 174 which would adopt the Rep Sannicandro“Real Lives” bill language to allow for DDS clients to self- determine where they live and work.

3- Support the Senate 5M reserve to fund the transition from sheltered to integrated employment.  This account also provides a higher staffing ratio for those in employment/day services.

Together, we must ensure that all DDS accounts are adequately funded so that individuals get the services they need to lead fulfilling lives in the community.  Do not delay in contacting your legislators and encouraging other to do so.  The number of people who act will make a difference.

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