Governor Charlie Baker released his final budget on January 26 for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023. Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) Marylou Sudders provided her final review of the HHS portion of the budget proposal, which comprises more than 50% of the state budget expenditures.
We want to recognize how extraordinary it is for a Secretary to stay through an entire two-term administration as Marylou has done – especially when you consider the responsibilities associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) gained 3% overall in its FY23 budget. The Turning 22 account received a $4 million increase to keep pace with graduates, which covers two years at $84.1 million. Family Support/Respite grew by $5 million.
There will be a need for increased funds in Employment, Transportation, the Autism Omnibus, and Supportive Technology line items. We also will require advocacy for more flexibility in funds including changes in the federal-state waiver for home and community-based services (HCBS). The HCBS funds are vital for individuals who are currently out of services, so they have the opportunity to receive some much-needed support and to assist the congregate day settings experiencing challenges due to workforce and transportation shortages.
There is good news for programs receiving rate reviews this year as the administration allocated $230 million for the Chapter 257 and Human Services Reserve. This figure tracks with our goal two years ago for $220 million to ensure a 10% increase for Adult Long Term Residential and other programs. Hopefully, the $230 million meets that goal. Language in the line item notes that reviewers will use a comparison of the median salary for each classification of staff positions with the 50th percentile wage estimate (using Bureau of Labor Statistics data). The collaborative of trade associations, which includes the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers, has been advocating for a comparison with the 75th percentile wage estimate.
Please stay tuned as we finalize The Arc’s FY23 budget asks and seek your help with our budget advocacy!