Thank you to everyone who rallied to contact their Representative and Senator for the Chapter 257 rate increase, employment, and other line items (note most line items are regarding Department of Developmental Disabilities (DDS)). The Arc is grateful for those individuals that took the time to send personalized letters or called their legislators throughout this budget process. Approximately 2,660 budget advocacy letters have already been sent to the statehouse using The Arc’s action alerts.
The budget is now nearly at the last stop of advocacy before the Governor’s signature, which is the Conference Committee. Although we were unable to increase the Chapter 257 line item funding beyond the $230 million (originally proposed by the Governor), we still have important advocacy to do. Your help will secure the best possible budget from the House and Senate.
The Conference Committee “conferees” are typically the House & Senate Ways & Means Chairs, Vice Chairs and Ranking Minority Members. They must now agree on a common budget, which means choosing among differences between the House and Senate budgets. There are several DDS line items where the House and Senate either agreed on increases above the Governor’s budget proposal or maintained it including Residential, Family Support, Technology, Autism Omnibus, DESE, and Turning 22.
Below are the important differences between the Senate and House budgets that must be resolved:
- The House budget is preferred and significantly higher for some top DDS line items – Community Day and Employment, Transportation, and Children’s Autism.
- The Senate has a $4 million allocation for the MA Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative, and language which allows the program to expand as well as a higher allocation for the MassHealth disability and senior line item.
- Two outside sections (amendments) in the Senate budget – one creates a pilot program for adults on MassHealth who need ABA therapy and the second creates a Disability Commission to study the history of the Commonwealth’s institutions.
- The House and Senate have flexibility language to transfer monies for unserved individuals/families. The Arc will share combined language with the conferees.
Please send The Arc’s action alert letter to your Representative and Senator and follow up with a call to their office asking them to contact the conferees from their branch on the priorities. As always, thank you for your continued advocacy!
Reach out with any questions to Maura at firstname.lastname@example.org.