COVID-19: Leo’s Letter: State Budget On! Ups & Downs, Advocacy Essential in Weeks Ahead

It’s on! Together we face an uphill challenge as the state scrambles to finalize this year’s budget.

Our update is relative to Governor Baker’s January FY’2021 House 2 proposal. You can see the proposal here.

The Breaking News: The DDS line item of Day and Employment is short by 13.4% or equal to the estimated loss of services to approximately 1,500 people. Other line items hold steady to the Governor’s January proposal. Although the $160 million rate reserve for Community Residential or ALTR also remains steady ($125 million estimated for the Department of Developmental Services [DDS], Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission [MRC], and Massachusetts Commission for the Blind [MCB]), the practical impact is half of what was expected as the rates will take effect in January 2021 instead of July 2020 reducing the impact (more on this and employment below).

The Special Education Circuit Breaker is at the FY’2020 level and this MAY also affect the DESE program. We are pleased to see four of our major MassHealth line items reflect increases and this is responsive to our crisis –unemployed need health care and additional long-term services and support.

There is also positive news on Section 36, which provides Disability employment credit of $2,000. These regulations should include all persons with disabilities whether served through MRC or another state agency.

However, we are very worried about the stability of the safety net both in terms of financing day and residential services and additional family support. Present financing will result in day program closures.

On Monday, October 19th at noon, our webinar will focus on the budget, share the implications, and what we need to do together to ensure a stable safety net and support families. New participants can register here.

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