On October 27, State House News released an article stating that new cuts would not be imposed on the state budget. They quoted a letter from Kristen LePore, Administration and Finance Secretary, to the chairs of the House and Senate Ways and Means Committees. “We are closing the budget gap,” Lepore wrote “through fiscally prudent solutions such as unanticipated non-tax revenue and a voluntary separation incentive program. While we are not reducing allotments at this time, we are actively monitoring tax revenue and additional spending exposures in the coming months before finalizing our decision on the extent of allotment reductions and other actions to ensure that the FY17 budget is in balance.”
On the one hand, this is good news. But the possibility of reductions hangs over supports and services for those we represent. In addition, last year’s budget did result in a 5% cut in day and employment services. A supplemental budget appropriation of $5 Million is critical for these services.
This affects persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities in two ways. First, many of those who turned 22 this year will not be served this year. Second, others in service will be in segregated settings without work, which is not what is best for them and contrary to federal law and regulations and the Olmstead decision.
It’s unclear what the status of those who are eligible for adult autism this year (FY17) along with those who turned 22 last year will be. Those who need job support may have to wait. Usually, DDS and other administration staff try to soften the impact on individuals as best they can and to push providers to serve more individuals with the hope of receiving funding later. But that only goes so far as staff have to be responsive to the individual needs of those receiving care. Governor Baker and Secretary Sudders have historically shown a strong regard for our services. Perhaps it’s time for the DDS budget to be allowed a deficiency budget in recognition of the critical needs of our constituents and families.
The Arc is posting a survey for families and staff to fill out regarding individual needs and circumstances.