California’s State Budget for the Developmental Disabilities System Falls Short
Over the past several months, we have advocated for improved funding of the developmental disabilities system in the FY2019-20 California State Budget, seeking to stabilize the safety net of services that Californians with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) rely on. This has been one of the most important budget cycles facing the I/DD system in the last decade. The developmental disabilities system has endured $1 billion in cuts since the Great Recession, creating a financial crisis for many service providers across the state. The California’s funding shortfalls for the I/DD system have directly led to more than 28,000 program closures since 2009. Our policy makers needed to approve a budget that addressed inflation, the high costs of living in many geographies in the state, the growth in the number of people needing support services and the decade long underfunding of the statewide system.
WE MADE AN IMPACT!
Thanks to everyone’s efforts, our voices were heard! A budget deal was reached between the Legislature and the Administration dedicating the following incremental rate increases for select programs: $125 million from the General Fund in FY2019-20 beginning January 1, 2020, $250 million from the General Fund in FY2020-21, and $125 million from the General Fund in FY2021-22.
While this is a start, it is not nearly enough to prevent program closures from continuing nor will it compensate for the wage gaps experienced by many direct care professionals. San Mateo Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, who championed our request throughout the year, said in a recent article in the San Mateo Daily Journal that he felt “increases in the funding available for services aimed at assisting developmentally disabled residents fell short of what’s needed, especially in high-cost areas like San Mateo County.”
CALIFORNIA STATE BUDGET: A MIXED BAG
- After a billion dollars in budget cuts since the Great Recession, and no restoration of funding to the system over the last decade, we FINALLY received a modest rate increase, covering MOST of the California’s services provided to individuals with developmental disabilities; these increases are effective January 1, 2020.
- An unprecedented bipartisan majority of Legislators in both the Assembly and Senate supported the increase in funding for the I/DD community. Thank you to all of our champions!
- Eliminates a 14 Day Uniform Holiday Schedule until January 1, 2022. The furlough proposal was introduced in 2009 during the recession as a cost cutting measure. We are pleased to see it taken off the table, though we would have liked to have seen it permanently repealed.
- There are 12 service categories that will receive ZERO funding in the budget, and many providers offering those service areas have indicated they will have to close their doors as a result of this omission. Some of the services receiving no funding include important categories of care and support, such as Independent Living Skills and Social Recreational services.
- The rate increases are set to be sunsetted, or eliminated, on December 31, 2021. While this Budget temporarily puts funding into programs that serve Californians with intellectual and developmental disabilities, it isn’t nearly enough, and the need isn’t going away in 2022 – especially given the increases in cost of living and the state mandated minimum wage increases.
- Sadly, the rate increases are not effective until January 1, 2020. We needed the rate increases NOW! The delay in funding will not alleviate the immediate financial pressures experienced by nearly all service providers across the state.
- There is no fix to the minimum wage “quirk.” When the minimum wage, as mandated by the state, is increased each year there is no mechanism to increase reimbursement rates for service providers. Additionally, many service providers operate in cities or regions with local “living wage” mandates, which are not accounted for in the state’s reimbursement rate structure.
- How the funds will be allocated to service providers is still being determined. This lack of certainty makes it very difficult for a service provider to plan and budget for the future.
ONGOING ADVOCACY NEEDED
All of us at Gatepath are sincerely grateful for your support in this advocacy effort. Although we experienced a small win, we have more work to do. We hope you will continue on this journey with us. We need you now more than ever to help raise awareness for our system’s funding crisis. Your voice will help ensure the vital services for those with developmental disabilities are protected.