Last week, Department of Developmental Services Commissioner Elin Howe described the House Ways & Means Committee’s proposed Fiscal Year 2013 budget for DDS programs and services as “the best budget the department has had in five years.”
Speaking with advocates during a conference call, Howe cited some boosts in funding in the HW&M plan. Those include a proposed $10 million increase over the governor’s plan for Adult Family Supports, which help families care for intellectually disabled people at home. They also include $1 million more than the governor proposed for Turning 22 services, which are geared toward people who are moving from the special education system to the adult service system.
But we wouldn’t agree this is a particularly good budget overall for people with intellectual disabilities. In fact, this budget fails to restore most community-based line items to what they were four and five years ago, and it continues to decimate the state developmental centers and to underfund other state-operated residential services.
In the conference call, Howe acknowledged that “the state side has taken the burden of the reductions” under the HW&M plan, but termed it “good news for the private sector.” We disagree that the HW&M budget is really all that good for the private sector; but Howe’s remark does unfortunately underscore this administration’s well-known bias against state-delivered care.
On the state side, the HW&M budget plan would lead to the loss of critically important service coordinators because it proposes to fund the DDS administrative line item, which pays for them, at about $1.1 million less than the governor’s plan.
SEIU Local 509, which represents service coordinators in the DDS system, had previously stated that the governor’s proposal would essentially level-fund service coordinator staffing for the coming year. The HW&M budget proposal would lead to a loss of 24 service coordinator positions.
Also, the HW&M budget plan fails to rectify a $4.1 million shortfall in the governor’s budget plan in the state-operated group home line item. At a time when the administration is busy trying to close four state developmental centers, we think it makes little sense to fail to adequately fund the state-operated group home system and to cut service coordinator jobs.
Under the HW&M budget for FY 13, funding for the developmental centers would be down $71 million from FY 09 in inflation-adjusted dollars, according to the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center’s excellent budget line item calculator. But while the $71 million cut in the developmental center’s line item reflects the administration’s efforts to phase down and close the four developmental centers, there hasn’t been a corresponding increase in most community-based line items.