California Action Alert: call now to protect disability services budget

12 Jun

The California disability community has been fighting to gain back some of the budget losses from the past few years.  We tried for a 10% increase but that didn’t happen.  The increases that are in the currently proposed budget are smaller, but they are increases.  And, most importantly, they aren’t finalized yet.  They could be still be cut.

Below is a letter emailed by The Arc & United Cerebral Palsy California Collaboration.  There are numbers to call.  And call now.  5 people to call.  That’s it.

Please call.  Please.

Dear Friends,
The Legislature’s budget conference committee acted late Tuesday, and now it’s time for more urgent action. I’m sure a lot of you are tired – I am, too – but I also know that our service system’s continued existence may depend on this fight.
For those who want details of what’s happened and what to expect next, scroll down to “Where are we now?” For those who just want to take action now, here’s how:
 
Five short calls needed urgently
 
Please call these five key decision-makers:
–      Governor Jerry Brown, 916-445-2841.
–      Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, 916-651-4024
–      Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, 916-319-2078
–      Senate Budget Chair Mark Leno, 916-651-4011
–      Assembly Budget Chair Shirley Weber, 916-319-2079
Please call all five, even the ones you’ve called before. There’s a new message — and they need to know we haven’t given up.
What you might say
 
“My name is __ and my address is __. I’m calling about the developmental services budget because ___ [tell them why you care].
“The budget conference committee’s actions will not be enough to stop our community service system from continuing to crumble. But they will save some of our services that that will close without them. Please don’t allow any cuts from what the committee passed.
 
“And please support the system reforms that the committee approved -– especially the language that says the savings from closing the developmental centers should go to the community services.
“Thank you.”
Where are we now?
 
Here are the actions the budget conference committee took late Tuesday.
Effective July 1:
 
–      5% increases for supported living, supported employment, and respite services, and for regional center clients’ rights advocacy.
–      2.5% increase for transportation services.
–      One new dental coordinator and one new forensic coordinator for each regional center.
 
Effective January 1:
 
–      2.5% across-the-board increase for all other services and for regional center staffing.
System reforms:
 
–      Require DDS to report to the Legislature annually on its evaluation of the rate-setting methodology for community service and regional center staffing.
–      Express legislative intent that future savings from closing the developmental centers be used to benefit people with developmental disabilities in the community.
All these actions reflect the Legislature’s priorities. I’m completely sure we wouldn’t have gotten even this much without our community’s united efforts in the Capitol and your energetic advocacy throughout the state.
 
These actions don’t reflect Governor Brown’s priorities. Brown originally proposed giving us nothing, and we hear he’s especially against shifting the developmental center closure savings to the community.
Now what?
The negotiations between Democratic legislative leaders and Brown are continuing, and will go on after the Legislature passes the budget as proposed by the conference committee. The Legislature’s deadline is Monday.
Even after the Legislature passes the budget, it can call it back and amend it to reflect any agreements the Democratic leaders reach with the governor.
At some point before July 1, Governor Brown will have to sign the budget, with or without any line-item vetoes – or he could veto the whole thing, sending it back to the Legislature for more negotiations. He has no such short deadline for signing or vetoing the “trailer bills” containing the system reforms, and negotiations over them could go on after July 1.
 
There’s approximately zero chance all this will result in anything more for our community than what the conference committee did. The big danger now is that they will result in less.
 
And in any case, the fight for more in the 2016 budget has begun.
Thank you for your advocacy. And please stay tuned.
 
Greg
 
Greg deGiere
Public Policy Director
The Arc & United Cerebral Palsy California Collaboration
1225 Eighth Street, Suite 350, Sacramento, CA 95814
916-552-6619 x4
Greg@TheArcCA.org
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