On April 13, the House Committee on Ways and Means released its own recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2023 budget. House debate took place during the week of April 25.
The Arc greatly appreciates the recommended increases to the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) budget and the commitment of the House, Speaker Ronald Mariano, and Chair Aaron Michlewitz to disability services. Nearly our entire DDS budget line item requests were granted, totaling over $70 million! We also appreciate the outstanding advocacy by members of the House and our constituents.
Advocates were surprised that the House did not add to the Governor’s Chapter 257 proposal of $230 million. The Arc had said it would follow the lead of the Collaborative of Trade Associations which had identified that $580 million would be needed to reach the range of $20 per hour for Direct Support Professionals (DSPS) in our field, and address the gap in wages for nurses, clinicians, and other professionals in comparable school and health settings.
Here are the House Ways and Means budget line item increases to the Governor’s H2 proposal:
- Transportation (5911-2000): Increase of almost $9 million
- Community Day/Employment (5920-2025): Increase of $51 million
- Technology (5920-2003): Increase of $1.25 million
- Autism Waiver (5920-3010): Increase of over $6.4 million
- Autism Omnibus-Adults (5920-3020): Increase of almost $5.7 million
The House Ways and Means maintained DDS line items like Turning 22, Residential Services, Family Support/Respite, DESE-DDS, and others.
Although, The Arc’s Government Affairs team worked closely with our champions in the House including Representatives Michael Finn, Brian Ashe, and Sean Garballey to file amendments that the House will debate, none of these amendments moved ahead. The amendment language would have:
- Extended the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for MassHealth day and AFC services
- Added language to address flexibilities in funding for individuals and families
- Provided for guardians and spouses to receive public funding directly for their caregiver support
We will continue to work on these key issues with the administration and leaders in the General Court.
As the budget process moves forward, The Arc will continue to prioritize and direct our efforts on Chapter 257 to address the workforce shortage crisis. We will work with the Senate and the Trade Associations on this $350 million request to bring Direct Support Professionals to $20 per hour. Along with other organizations, we need to review and reboot advocacy to support and recruit the much-needed direct support workforce. After the Senate finishes its blueprint, a Conference Committee will meet to finalize the fiscal year 2023 budget (starts July 1, 2022) for Gov. Baker’s signature.
Learn more about the budget request at www.arcmass.org/advocacy. The chart for House Ways and Means still applies for the House. Follow The Arc’s Advocacy webpage for budget updates and action alerts. We need our disability community and the citizens to stand strong for change. Share our advocacy alerts with friends and neighbors across the state. Contact Maura Sullivan with questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.