Three Special Sessions, but finally a budget!

Published Jun. 30, 2015

Three Special Sessions, but finally a budget!

After a long regular session, two 30-day special sessions plus part of a third special session, legislators were finally able to complete the one task required of them: to pass a two-year operating budget for our state. There were many ups and downs, lots of concern as things were proposed to be funded, then not funded, then funded again, but the final budget was a welcome announcement as all of the services and supports we had advocated for during this six-month long session were actually funded!

The Governor first proposed his budget at the end of 2015. The House proposed a budget (PSHB 1106), the Senate then shared their proposal. The House had included the closure of Lakeland Village, which had received a terrible review from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), which made community advocates ecstatic to think we might finally close one of our state institutions. Unfortunately, the revised budget bill didn’t pass the House floor with that provision intact (ESHB 1106). The House passed a second substitute budget bill (2SSB 1106) then a striking amendment to that. The Senate also offered a substitute budget bill (ESSB 5077), then proposed a different budget bill (PSSB 6050), then another (SSB 6052), before both chambers finally passed the Senate final version (ESSB 6052).

Some of the major funding accomplishments include:

• Supported Living Provider rate increase - 60 cents/hr each year for the next two years
• Increase in the Basic Plus Waiver slots - 1,000 individuals
• Increase in the Individual and Family Services program - 4,000 individuals
• Expand enhanced respite in the community for children – 8 beds
• Create community respite for adults – 8 beds
• Increase Individual Provider rates - wages, health care, training, personal time, retirement
• Increase Agency Provider rates for parity with Individual Providers
• Fund early intervention services
• Increase food stamp benefit from 75% of the federal level to 100% of the federal level beginning 7/1/15

Some bills which were also funded:

• Create Social-emotional Learning workgroup (SB 5688)
• Add Crisis Intervention Training for all new & existing law enforcement officers (SB 5311)
• Fund Bright Futures autism & DD screening (SB 5317)
• Create a workgroup for Achieving a Better Life Experience program - the ABLE Act (HB 2063)

Some provisos were directed within existing funding:

• Develop rules for Adult Family Homes that specialize in young adults with developmental disabilities
• Don't move people from sheltered workshops until end of 2016 session unless person/guardian agrees; report on impact of those who do move by 1/1/16
• Provide community respite utilization report by January 1, 2016
• Standardize Community Residential admin rate; cost reports to include health insurance, wages, number of positions and turnover rates

To view the budget side-by-side go to:

Bills of Interest for 2015

A number of bills made it through the process this year. The advocacy work of so many individuals and families made such an overwhelming success for this legislative session!

 HB 1240 Restraints in schools - Prohibit the planned use of aversive interventions, no restraints & isolation unless serious harm is likely
 HB 1531 Respite providers - Removes expiration date on 300 hours a year for respite providers (DSHS request)
 HB 2063 Achieving a Better Life Experience - Create 529A savings accounts for people with disabilities per the federal ABLE Act
 SB 5311 Crisis intervention training - Create crisis intervention training for all law enforcement, includes interaction with people with DD, standards for outside trainers
 SB 5317 Autism screening - Requiring  screening and payment for autism and developmental delays for children in Medicaid programs
 SB 5488 ABA licensure - Establishing licensure for the practice of applied behavior analysis (ABA)
 SB 5600 Abuse definitions - Refine definitions of mental abuse and restraints used in DSHS facilities (DSHS request)
 SSB 5607 Guardianship complaints - Create a standard form for guardianship complaints, clarify the complaint process, cost for families
 SB 5647 Courthouse facilitators - Allows counties to create guardianship courthouse facilitator programs
 SB 5679Transition services - Clarifies transition services to be included in transition plans at age 16, but as young as 14
 SB 5999 Adds Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) to the Caseload Forecast Council
 SR 8656 Autism - Honor & support individuals with autism and acknowledge the tremendous courage that they & their families put forth every day
 SR 8657 Down Syndrome - Recognize and honor exemplary individuals with Down syndrome and the dedicated communities that support them

To see the status of the bills of interest, visit our web site at:

What can you do now?

Don’t forget to check out the final Olympia Insider. Watch our web site for updates as the 2016 legislative session is only six months away!

 Check out our web site at and click on the “Take Action” tab.
 Read the Olympia Reporter for in-depth news happening in Olympia during legislative session.
 Subscribe to the Olympia Insider YouTube channel during session for video updates.
 Sign up for The Arc of Washington State’s Action Alerts.
 Be sure to follow TheArcofWA on Twitter.
 Become a fan of The Arc - Washington State on Facebook.
 Get the Advocacy Partnership Project “News to Know” email newsletter. Email
 Write Letters to the Editor of your local newspaper. The Arc makes this easy for you to do. Simply go to 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

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