PA Governor’s Budget for Pennsylvanians with Disabilities

From The Arc, Scranton PA

On February 9, Governor Wolf proposed a $33.3 billion budget for fiscal year 2016-2017. This is a 10.89% increase compared to the $30.03 final 2015-2016 budget. The General Assembly is currently creating their own budget proposal for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. After it is formally introduced and shared with the Governor’s administration, budget negotiations will begin.

The 2016-2017 Governor’s budget proposal is a mix of positives and negatives for Pennsylvanians with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism. While it includes increases to special education, funds to offer ABLE Accounts in Pennsylvania, funds to reduce the number of adults waiting for autism services, an increase in base funds, and an increase for the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation to support employment for individuals with disabilities, the budget also proposes the smallest waiting list initiative in five years and continues increasing funding for state intellectual disability centers.

Acknowledging that many of the proposed increases are a restoration of budget cuts made under the previous administration, Executive Director Maureen Cronin notes that “The Arc of Pennsylvania will work diligently to support portions of the budget proposal that are positive for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, while pushing for more waiver funding to be made available to individuals desperately waiting for services. We firmly believe that the state’s budget should be the Commonwealth’s moral testament to an inclusive society where individuals with disabilities live and work as independently as possible.”

The Arc of Pennsylvania is paying particularly close attention to the following budget items:

Department of Human Services

$1.2 million proposed increase in Infant/Toddler Early Intervention $71.4 million increase, or 5.9%, to provide home and community based services to more than 55,000 individuals with intellectual disabilities, including residential, transportation, and habilitation support.

• This includes an $11.5 million increase for offering waiver services for an additional 250 individuals with intellectual disabilities (Consolidated waiver) and 500 students with intellectual disabilities graduating from high school (P/FDS waiver).

• This is a significant step backwards from the last two years:

◦ Fiscal year 2013-14 – 380 Consolidated waiver spots and 700 P/FDS spots

◦ Fiscal year 2014-15 – 400 Consolidated waiver spots and 700 P/FDS spots

◦ The Office of Developmental Programs also holds back waiver spots each year for emergency situations that arise, particularly for individuals are referred to waiver services through Adult Protective Services. This means that there will be even fewer new spots to remove individuals from the emergency waiting list. Currently there are nearly 5,000 individuals on the emergency waiting list.

• Currently over 5,000 individuals are on the intellectual and developmental disabilities emergency waiting list.

• A portion of this home and community based services increase includes an increase of $5.4 million, or 3.5%, in community base funds, which help fund programs that address the gap in support services including respite support. Base funding has consistently been cut in the past final state budget.

An increase of $775,000 to offer waivers to 100 adults with autism.

A $3.2 million increase for State Centers. The Arc of Pennsylvania continues to advocate for the closure of state institutions and for current residents to transition to community living.

An increase of $955,000 to transition 75 individuals currently residing in state intellectual disabilities centers to the community.

Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

$2 million increase for OVR, which would leverage approximately $8 million in federal funds. OVR provides supported employment services to adults with disabilities.

Department of Education

$50 million increase to special education, which would be distributed according to the new Special Education Funding Formula. No change in funding was proposed for Preschool Early Intervention.

Treasury Department

$4 million to start up the PA ABLE savings account program for individuals who acquired their disability before age 26. The Arc of Pennsylvania will continue advocating for a budget that empowers people with disabilities in our communities – a budget that helps those with disabilities who are presently confined to their homes get the support they need to seek employment and community connections; a budget that helps high school students find meaningful, sustainable work that prepares them for adult life; and a budget that supports families through providing respite care for caregivers.

 

On February 9, Governor Wolf proposed a $33.3 billion budget for fiscal year 2016-2017. This is a 10.89% increase compared to the $30.03 final 2015-2016 budget. The General Assembly is currently creating their own budget proposal for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. After it is formally introduced and shared with the Governor’s administration, budget negotiations will begin. The 2016-2017 Governor’s budget proposal is a mix of positives and negatives for Pennsylvanians with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism. While it includes increases to special education, funds to offer ABLE Accounts in Pennsylvania, funds to reduce the number of adults waiting for autism services, an increase in base funds, and an increase for the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation to support employment for individuals with disabilities, the budget also proposes the smallest waiting list initiative in five years and continues increasing funding for state intellectual disability centers. Acknowledging that many of the proposed increases are a restoration of budget cuts made under the previous administration, Executive Director Maureen Cronin notes that “The Arc of Pennsylvania will work diligently to support portions of the budget proposal that are positive for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, while pushing for more waiver funding to be made available to individuals desperately waiting for services. We firmly believe that the state’s budget should be the Commonwealth’s moral testament to an inclusive society where individuals with disabilities live and work as independently as possible.” The Arc of Pennsylvania is paying particularly close attention to the following budget items: Department of Human Services $1.2 million proposed increase in Infant/Toddler Early Intervention $71.4 million increase, or 5.9%, to provide home and community based services to more than 55,000 individuals with intellectual disabilities, including residential, transportation, and habilitation support. • This includes an $11.5 million increase for offering waiver services for an additional 250 individuals with intellectual disabilities (Consolidated waiver) and 500 students with intellectual disabilities graduating from high school (P/FDS waiver). • This is a significant step backwards from the last two years: ◦ Fiscal year 2013-14 – 380 Consolidated waiver spots and 700 P/FDS spots ◦ Fiscal year 2014-15 – 400 Consolidated waiver spots and 700 P/FDS spots ◦ The Office of Developmental Programs also holds back waiver spots each year for emergency situations that arise, particularly for individuals are referred to waiver services through Adult Protective Services. This means that there will be even fewer new spots to remove individuals from the emergency waiting list. Currently there are nearly 5,000 individuals on the emergency waiting list. • Currently over 5,000 individuals are on the intellectual and developmental disabilities emergency waiting list.