The Session is over and we have a final budget!

By Lance Morehouse, Coordinator, King County Parent Coalition for DD

The Legislature finally finished their work at 6:00 am on Wednesday, April 11, 2012 and we have a final budget. This budget is amazing compared to where we started from in October/November of 2011. There are virtually no new cuts to people with developmental disabilities and a little extra funding for some community residential placements.

Here is a link to the agency detail on the DD budget that was passed at about 6:00 am this morning. The DD Section starts on page 131 of the document and looks VERY, VERY good! They even removed the state only employment reduction which was one of the final reductions that would have affected people! And here is the 2012 Supplemental budget comparison

I would like us all to take a moment and remember where we started from on this budget. The previews of the 2012 legislative session started way back in September of 2011. Because of an ongoing budget deficit and lack of revenues to the state, there were proposals from DSHS to eliminate thousands of people from services. The former DSHS Secretary Susan Dreyfus traveled around the state talking about eligibility reductions that they were considering including:

  • 48% of people with developmental disabilities on Medicaid Personal Care (3,000 people) could lose services.
  • 46% of people with developmental disabilities on Medicaid Waivers (5,700 people) could lose services.

Many of us were devastated and could not believe what we were hearing. In October, Governor Gregoire proposed budget reduction options and in November released her proposed balanced budget for our state. In her statement, she said that she did not like the budget she was proposing and didn’t think it represented the values of Washingtonians. Proposals included:

  • 1,300 people who are aging or with developmental disabilities would lose services.
  • 330 people with developmental disabilities would lose Medicaid Waiver services.
  • 1,000 people would lose services from the Individual and Family Support program.
  • 488 adults would lose state only employment services.
  • 1,000 people who are aging or with developmental disabilities would lose Adult Day Health services.
  • Routine dental for adults with developmental disabilities would be eliminated.

In the proposed budgets from the House and Senate, things improved dramatically. The Legislature received a little good news as revenues increased slightly and people accessing state services decreased. The House was first to release a budget proposal shortly followed by the Senate. The difference from the Governor’s budget was remarkable. While there were still some reductions, we fared pretty well overall. I have honestly lost track of how many different budget proposals we have seen since then. All of the Legislative budget proposals from both Republicans and Democrats have shown that people with developmental disabilities are a priority of Government.

The next step is that the budget that passed the Legislature will go to the Governor’s desk for her signature. There might be one more opportunity for action if there is anything that we want to ask the Governor to veto in this budget. Please stay tuned.

ACTION: Now that the special session has ended, please think about ways that we can thank our elected officials for their hard work. Please contact your three Legislators and thank them for their commitment to people with developmental disabilities and their families during such difficult time. This is very important to our continued success in the future! If you need contact information for your legislators, please visit The Arc Website here.

Most of all, please think about the ways that you and those around you contributed to advocacy this year. This is the power of people working together for a meaningful cause. I feel like we really made a huge difference and we should all feel good about the hard work that we accomplished.

Thank you all. We feel very lucky to work with such a fine community of advocates!

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