On May 10, 2022, the Senate Ways and Means Committee released its own recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2023 budget. The Arc appreciates the recommended increases over the Governor’s House 2 proposal for the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) budget. Thank you to the Senate Ways and Means Committee and Chair, Michael Rodrigues for the increases noted below. However, we hoped that the budget would reflect all the gains proposed in the House for the DDS budget and some advance over the Governor’s request for 1599-6903, Chapter 257 reserve along with extending ARPA dollars for certain MassHealth long term services such as Day Habilitation and AFC.
Unless the full Senate debate increases the workforce request of 257, our Direct Support workforce state hourly pay benchmark will remain at $16.79 and not advance toward $20 per hour (along with other positions such as nursing, frontline managers, etc.). The Arc is grateful that Ways and Means provides more flexibility across community line items that would allow for DDS to transfer monies to family support if NOT spend in day/employment services. However, keeping the funding at 60% capacity, and not advancing the reserve, will mean transfers will be limited.
Senate Ways and Means did increase Adult Autism, and Technology over the Governor’s House 2 budget and projected more spending for MassHealth in the senior and disability line item. We will request amendments on key line items frommembers of the Senate who are committed to further support of disability services. They will speak on the floor to the need for critical funding of our safety net.
Here are the Senate Ways and Means budget line item increases to the Governor’s H2 proposal:
- Transportation (5911-2000): Increase of $2.2 million
- Technology (5920-2003): Increase of $1.2 million
- Autism Omnibus-Adults (5920-3020): Increase of $5.6 million
- Autism Children’s Waiver DDS (5920-3010): increase of almost $1 million
- MassHealth (4000-0601): increase of over $25 million
The Senate Ways and Means maintained DDS line items like Turning 22, Residential Services, Family Support/Respite, DESE-DDS, and others.
The Arc is excited to see that Senate Ways and Means funded 7066-9600 Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment initiative at $4 million. This program allows persons with ID, autism and other developmental disabilities to access state colleges and universities in order to gain skills necessary to work and live independently in the community as adults.
The Arc’s Government Affairs team will work closely with our champions in the Senate and to engage our constituents to file and pass needed amendments. Along with amendments for Chapter 257, Community Day and Employment and Transportation, we aim to have the following language amendments filed:
- Extending the 10% rate increase American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for MassHealth day habilitation and AFC services
- Added language to address flexibilities in funding for individuals and families
- Permitting guardians and spouses to be state funded AFC caregivers
Stay tuned in the next week to take action on these important budget and language amendments. We will continue to work on these key issues with the administration. After the Senate finishes its blueprint, a Conference Committee will meet to finalize the fiscal year 2023 budget (starting July 1, 2022) for Gov. Baker’s signature.
Learn more about the budget request at www.arcmass.org/advocacy.
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.