Olympia Reporter 3/12/18

Published Mar. 13, 2018

Olympia Reporter 3/12/18

A Capital Budget has been signed!

Since no capital budget was passed last year, the state needed to pass a Capital Budget, which funds state building projects. For people with developmental disabilities (DD) and their families, the capital budget provides money for the Housing Trust Fund DD Set-aside to pay for building or remodeling homes in the community. It is also funds building or remodeling of Residential Habilitation Centers (RHC). Although the DD community does not support the continuation of funding for these outdated structures, the legislature continues to appropriate more money into them. $5,800,000 was provided for the less than 700 people living in an RHC, while only $2,197,000 was provided for community housing for over 44,000 people.

The Supplemental Operating Budget is ready for Signature.

The Operating budget was so inequitable between DD spending in the state institutions and community settings that advocates were forced to directly address it. The Governor’s budget proposal suggested providing more than $11 million in state funds for the 697 people in the RHCs. He proposed $1.4 million to start moving 47 of those people currently in an RHC to a State Operated Living Alternative (SOLA). The final budget provided almost all the RHC funding the Governor proposed and only about $300,000 for the Parent to Parent program.

Once the Senate and House released their budget proposals, DD advocates decided the huge inequity needed to be addressed. At the public hearings for both budget proposals The Arc, the Developmental Disabilities Council (DDC) and Self Advocates in Leadership (SAIL) shared how disappointed we are at the large inequity in funding.

We reminded them that:

  • Of the 44,300 people in the community,
  • 63% live at home with their family,
  • 12,500 people are eligible for services but there is no funding,
  • Another 700 people a MONTH are being determined eligible,
  • We need more funding for families in crisis,
  • We need more funding for supported living staff,
  • We need more funding for respite to give families a break,
  • We need them to change the policy that forces adults to choose between employment and day services, especially since ALL other states allow both,
  • We need more community residential options for aging parents still caring for their adult son or daughter.

We also shared a graphic image with legislators to get their focus on the problem:

Representative Michelle Caldier decided she wanted to do something about the inequity and proposed funding expansion of the Parent to Parent program ($290,000) and provide $1.1 million to add people to services on the Individual and Family Services (IFS) waiver. Although she got both items in the House proposal, the money for the IFS waiver openings did not make it to the final budget.

DSHS is directed to contract with a neutral party to facilitate meetings about how to support RHC clients based on their needs and ages and must be detailed in a report to the legislature before December 1, 2018. The group will be comprised of 13 people, both community advocates and RHC advocates.  An agreed-upon vision must also be included in the report, but this must be done with no funding. More than 40 studies have been done on the future of RHCs, yet little has happened.

See the Capital budget and Operating budget side-by-side charts at www.arcwa.org/takeaction then click on “Legislative Issue Papers” and scroll down to the documents you want to see.

Bills of Interest – new, old and new/old!

Below are the bills that impact people with DD that are on the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature:

What Do We Do Now?

Now is a great time to give thank you notes/emails to legislators for sponsoring bills that passed or for budget items that were funded and are important to you, such as Parent to Parent.

A number of legislators have already announced that they will not return to the legislature, including Senator Michael Baumgartner and Representatives Ruth Kagi, Judy Clibborn, Dan Krisitansen, Larry Haler, Terry Nealey, Liz Pike, Jay Rodne and Melanie Stambaugh. With many open seats for the November election, you need to be an informed voter. The Arc of Washington State will provide a questionnaire about candidate knowledge and positions on a variety of DD issues. As the responses are received, we will post them on our web site.

Another way to be informed is by connecting to your local chapter of The Arc, your Parent Coalition and other DD community groups who may hold candidate forums and other events where you can ask questions and better understand how candidates propose to represent your voice!

This has been a tough legislative session. We will be looking for new ideas to try to address access to affordable housing, employment and day services, special education, transition services in schools and more.

Stay connected! Let us know what you need!

  • Read the Olympia Reporter for in-depth news happening in Olympia.
  • Subscribe to the Olympia Insider YouTube channel for video updates.
  • Sign up for The Arc of Washington’s Action Network.
  • Be sure to follow TheArcofWA on Twitter.
  • Become a fan of The Arc - Washington State on Facebook
  • Share why services are important to you on our My Story Matters! Page.
  • 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!