Where are the Supplemental Budget Proposals?

Published Jan. 31, 2012

Where are the Supplemental Budget Proposals?

January 31, 2012

Where are the Supplemental Budget Proposals?

Although the Governor released her proposed supplemental budget back in November of 2011, after legislators had a 30 day special session and are now in 22 of the supplemental budget session, we still have no idea what legislators are planning to propose for the budget cuts. This weekend found legislators telling constituents that no budget proposals will be released until after the revenue forecast is released on February 16th. This will leave only three weeks left in the session for the House to release their budget proposal, the Senate to release their budget proposal, public hearings to be held and a final budget compromise to be put together. Although the hope is that the new revenue forecaster will share a better set of numbers, it is unlikely to change the overall outlook very much; cuts will still have to be made and services for people with developmental disabilities will take a huge share of them. By leaving so little time to know what to advocate, calls for advocates to act will need to be sent with very little notice, making your voice more important than ever before!

Don’t Cut Our Lifeline!

We need legislators to look at a balanced approach that includes revenue and though some revenue bills have been proposed, there are not enough members who will vote “yes” for the two thirds majority, which is required for passage. This means that the cuts will be enacted, people will be cut from services, and legislators plan to send some form of a revenue package to the people for a vote sometime in April (this only takes a majority vote to do). By the time a revenue package is voted on though, many people may already have lost their services. If the people do not approve the revenue package, many more people will fall into crisis, having lost the only lifeline helping with personal care needs, medications and dental, keeping them in their home and in their job.

In addition to Medicaid services such as Medicaid Personal Care, Home and Community Based Services Waivers (which include employment and residential services), prescription drugs and dental services, a thousand families could lose all of their respite services, (from the Individual and Family Services program) taking the one small thing that keeps them from having to place their loved one out of their home.

At town hall meetings this weekend legislators talked about the two priorities being the budget and creating jobs. We need to continue to remind them that in a time when we need to be creating jobs, cutting these lifeline services for individuals with developmental disabilities would mean that the adult who loses their job supports could lose their job, their employment support staff would lose their job, employment agencies could go out of business; the domino effect would be quite evident. The same is true for residential supports. People with supported living services provided through their waiver could be left homeless, their providers would be out of a job, agencies would go out of business, etc. In a time when they want to create jobs, they would be destroying jobs!

To see the budget side-by-side go to www.arcwa.org/takeaction then click on Budget Information. The chart currently shows the Governor’s budget proposal, but House and Senate proposals should be out soon.

Bills of Interest

There are several bills to watch this session. SB 6162/HB 2477 concern missing and endangered persons. Washington law dictates how the Amber Alert is to be utilized in our state. When a child meets the criteria for an Amber Alert, law enforcement is to notify the Washington State Patrol within 12 hours; they then activate the alert and notify media outlets in order to enlist the public’s help in returning the child safely. An Endangered Missing Person’s Advisory (EMPA) was created in the 2010 legislative session, but has never been used.  The EMPA is intended for use when a child or an adult is missing is believed to be in danger because of age, health, mental or physical disability, in combination with environmental or weather conditions, or is believed to be unable to return to safety without assistance. This would include children and adults with a developmental disability. Both the Senate and House held hearings on the bill last week and news media covered them. The bill is being called Kimmie’s Law in memory of Kimmie Daily, a 16 year old girl with a developmental disability who was murdered in 2010. After being told by law enforcement they could not begin looking until 24 hours had passed, Kimmie’s father knew something needed to change. This bill would add the EMPA to the Amber Alert statute and require the activation within six hours.

Safety in children’s products (HB 2266/SB 6120) has had a hearing for both bills. The Senate version was referred to Ways and Means and also had a hearing there. This bill would require companies that use the Tris chemical, a harmful flame retardant, to begin using one of the alternative chemicals that is not harmful to children. Even though there is a lot of information to support banning this chemical, manufacturers are fighting the bill.

The assessment for community residential providers has made it to the Rules Committee, watch to see if that makes it through the House and on to the Senate. SB 6384, an employment bill which allows people with a developmental disability to transition to community access after nine months in an employment program, if they choose to, also has a hearing this week.

The Arc makes it easy for you to track bills and their status, as well as what hearings are happening during the week. You can always find the updated list at http://arcwa.org/takeaction and click on Budget Information and Bills of Interest or Legislative Hearings and Events.

Not only does the Bills of Interest document on our web site have bill numbers that are clickable links which take you to the Washington State Legislature page for that bill, the Legislature has also added a new feature to their bill pages in which you can click on a video link and it will take you to the TVW web site link for video of the hearings that have been held for that particular bill. In addition, you can sign up on the legislative page of the bill for the RSS feed. When you click on the RSS symbol   it will sign you up to receive an email alert any time there is a change in the status of that bill.

What can you do now?

Wednesday, February 1st is our next Advocacy Day. We will be meeting at 10 am at The United Churches in Olympia, across from the capitol. Our focus this week is on protecting Medicaid services, which will likely be proposed for cuts. We need your help to get messages out to every legislator about how critical it is that they understand the importance of “Don’t Cut Our Lifeline!”
This year’s Independent Living Day Rally is Wednesday, February 22nd. This day provides the opportunity to help legislators understand the importance of funding services in our communities. Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities no longer want to be segregated, this is their day to educate lawmakers about why this is important to them. Providing these services in the community is also much less expensive than in our state institutions. The rally is sponsored by PAS-Port for Change (self advocates standing up for Personal Assistance Services).
For more information on Advocacy Day events visit http://arcwa.org/takeaction and click on Advocacy Day.
Stay connected during this critical time:

 Read the Olympia Reporter for in-depth news happening in Olympia at http://arcwa.org/category/insider/C1
 Subscribe to the Olympia Insider YouTube channel for video updates at http://arcwa.org/category/insider/C2
 Sign up for Action Alerts at http://capwiz.com/arcwa/state/main/?state=WA This is The Arc of Washington’s Advocacy web page where you can view Action Alerts, learn the status of bills during session and much more.
 Be sure to follow TheArcofWA on Twitter for quick updates texted to your cell phone. http://twitter.com/arcofwa
 Become a fan of The Arc - Washington State on Facebook for interactive conversations and information.
 “Like” the Don’t Cut Our Lifeline! Facebook page with discussions about all of the cuts proposed to Medicaid, both at state and federal levels.
 Follow blog postings on Remarks from The Arc, read perspectives from various advocates on the issues of concern.
 Get the Advocacy Partnership Project “News to Know” email newsletter. Email a request to join to Diana@arcwa.org.
 Write Letters to the Editor of your local newspaper. The Arc makes this easy for you to do. Simply go to http://capwiz.com/arcwa/home and click on the “Media Guide” tab. Choose five newspapers to send to, then write your message and click send.

Questions? Need more information? Email me at Diana@arcwa.org.

Remember, change is being made by those who show up!