House and Senate amended budget proposals good to people with developmental disabilities

Published Mar. 1, 2010

Both Senate and House budget proposals were released last Tuesday. Public hearings were held with lots of input provided to legislators. For individuals with developmental disabilities, the House cut very little in community services for people with DD, but we had work to do in the Senate, as there were some significant cuts in their budget proposal. The budget bills were scheduled for “executive session” where Ways and Means committee members can propose amendments to the budget before it is passed to the chamber floor for a vote of all members. Senators proposed several amendments which not only restored some of the cuts in the original budget bill, but also restored funding for the self-advocacy programs and Parent to Parent programs that were eliminated last year.

The Senate budget proposal calls for the close of Frances Haddon Morgan Center. One of the proposed amendments which had bipartisan support in the Senate was to direct DSHS to report to the legislature by the end of this year on the closure of additional Residential Habilitation Center (RHC). The House budget proposal calls for the closure of one cottage at Rainier and the assessment of all RHC residents to determine alternative placements.

Now we must watch and make sure legislators hold fast to the DD funding proposed as they merge their final budgets.

Bills are nearing the end of their journey.

Friday was the final cut-off for bills to be voted out of the second phase of their journey. If any amendments were added to a bill in the chamber that just passed them, they now need to return to their “house of origin” to see if those legislators will agree with the amendments added. Once both chambers agree on the language of the bill it moves to the Governor’s office for her signature.

What a great Advocacy Day Rally!

Despite the wind and rain, the Independent Living Day Rally had a great turnout. Huddled together, sharing umbrellas, more than 400 people showed up to voice their support of providing services for individuals with developmental disabilities in their local communities.

Community advocates also made sure legislators know that they support the legislature in restructuring the Residential Habilitation Centers in our state with the closure of Frances Haddon Morgan Center and particularly are grateful to Senator Hobbs, who added an amendment to the Senate budget that directs DSHS to close an additional RHC.

For our last Advocacy Day of the session, Ed Holen provided information about the revenue packages being proposed so that advocates would have a better understanding of what legislators are looking at as they attempt to keep from having to make cuts to programs for those with developmental disabilities in the community. Advocates who attended the last Advocacy Day also received a 2010 Advocacy Day pin as a thank you for all their hard work this session as well as pizza and cookies. “Great Job!” to everyone who has participated in Advocacy Day this legislative session. We’ll be back again next year, ready to make our voices heard again.

What can you do to help?

Thank you cards are really appreciated by legislators. Please remember to thank them for the work they are doing. These are long, difficult days for legislators who must make hard decisions and will never make everyone happy. Let your legislators know you appreciate their dedication.

Don’t forget to check The Olympia Insider for the new podcasts and to subscribe using iTunes or another RSS tool in order to be notified automatically when something new is posted. Remember you can download these to your video-enabled handheld devices!

Episode 9: Coming Home to the Community

Parents, care providers, and people with disabilities from around the state gathered on the capitol steps to celebrate independent living and advocate for the community services that make true inclusion possible.

Episode 10: The Final Stretch

In the final days of the 2010 session, advocates gather for one last Advocacy Day briefing before heading to the capitol with thank you notes and powerful messages for legislators still debating budget details.

Change is made by those who show up, thanks for being here this year, your voice was heard!

Diana Stadden
Arc of Washington State
Policy and Advocacy Coordinator