Imagine 3,000 people not even having a chance to return to day services.
One barrier to returning is having staff. But what if a second barrier had remained which was not budgeting enough dollars for day and transportation services? If members in the House hadn’t questioned this fact, and House Ways and Means decided to let the lower budget remain, this could have been the case.
The Arc and our providers’ association ADDP shared the reality of persons not yet returned to day services along with many waiting who had turned 22 years of age. The COVID reality continued for them in a very real way.
Representative Denise Garlick and others were willing to be champions on this issue. Rep. Garlick had served as Vice Chair of House Ways and Means, so she appreciated that the initial budget would far fewer than those who had been served before COVID. She is one of the leaders we rely on and has been recognized by The Arc in the past.
We need champions inside government who are willing to fight for our goals while others may be focused on different priorities. But it doesn’t stop there.
The Chair of Ways and Means, the committee, and team make the decision at the end. It’s not just a matter of caring. It takes personal time and staff time to sort through our information while working on a large state budget which has many parts.
Chair Aaron Michlewitz and his team have reflected such a commitment. One year, despite being called to meet with the speaker during our time spot, he didn’t reschedule us, but stayed late at the office to still hold our meeting.
The bottom line: $60 million additional dollars were appropriated for day and transportation services that may not have been there. Thousands of persons were recognized. In conference committee, both ways and means committees concurred.
We are at a better place for that outcome and others. Champions make a difference.