This past Monday, April 13, I attended the first of two briefings by Laura Nuss on the mayor’s FY2016 budget proposal and, in particular, the budget proposal for DDS. There will be a second briefing on Monday, 4/20, 3:30 at the Anacostia library, 1800 Good Hope Road SE - attend if you can. On the DDS website you’ll see an announcement of the 4/20 meeting, but if the Power Point is there I can’t find it. I’ve scanned my hard copy to share it with you: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B489LE-2ltOgMUZUbU8wbzBpTHM/view?usp=sharing
The good news: In a fiscally constrained budget environment, the DDS budget held up well. There is even a slight proposed increase of $1.7 million for RSA to allow compliance with new federal requirements for transition programming for in-school youth without squeezing other parts of the RSA budget. The mayor also accepted the argument that most of the DDS budget is D.C. matching with federal Medicaid funds to support the approximately 1650 people currently served under the DDA waiver. Since D.C. has found these people eligible, the funds have to be provided. Hopefully the D.C. council will also understand this.
The bad news: This is, as I said above, a fiscally constrained budget environment. The mayor has submitted a request that not only involves cuts in some agency budgets, but also proposes an increase in the D.C. sales tax to fund affordable housing. This means that any thought of developing a waiver to serve people with developmental disabilities who don’t meet the IQ requirement for an intellectual disability is, for now, off the table. Why? Because the D.C. matching funds for these additional people would create a new budget requirement. These are realities. And until the mayor, and the council, hear that we want justice for citizens with developmental disabilities in our city, the situation is not going to change, even in FY 2017 or beyond.
You have a chance to start being heard on this issue. On April 29 at 10 a.m., the D.C. council’s Committee on Health and Human Services will hold a hearing on the DDS budget – room 500 of the Wilson Building. Council members need to hear that we want the council to support the proposed funding for DDS in the mayor’s FY 2016 budget, as the minimum necessary to meet current requirements. But we also need council members to hear that we want something even better in FY 2017. So do one or all of these things: contact Rayna Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org to get your name on the list to testify in person on the 29th; write her at the same address to say you plan to submit written testimony; or write your council member (http://dccouncil.us/council) to say you support the DDS budget request.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease, folks. So squeak!