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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

California Cuts, Continued

See earlier posts about California budget cuts affecting people on the spectrum: here and here

The Arc is calling for action:

The Arc and other disability organizations are fighting in the Capitol to protect our community’s services. To limit the damage, we need a strong show of support from the community. That means you and the people you know throughout the state.

I’ll tell you more about the threat, but first, here’s what I’m asking you to do:

· Come to Sacramento on Thursday, February 3, and Thursday, February 10, the dates of the Legislature’s only public hearings on the developmental services budget. We need to fill the hearing rooms with people who are ready to tell the legislators what the real effect of the earlier cuts has been and what the likely categorical reductions and service eliminations would mean to them and the ones they love.

· Call your local state senator and assemblymember this week and give them the same message.

The threat is caused by the state’s massive budget shortfall, probably the worst since the Great Depression. To balance the budget, Governor Brown has proposed more than $12 billion in cuts and about the same amount in revenue increases by continuing some existing taxes by five years.

In developmental services, that would mean cuts to services of more than three quarters of a billion dollars—real, new cuts, over and above continuing the much smaller 2009 and 2010 cuts. The total cut this year would include the federal matching funds we would lose as a result of the state fund cuts.

It’s hard to grasp how much a cut that large would reduce the Lanterman Act services, especially because the governor hasn’t said exactly where the ax would fall. The state could eliminate all the regional centers’ operating budgets and still not cut that much.

We do know that most of the cuts probably would come from imposing what are called statewide “service standards.”

“Service standards” sounds good, doesn’t it? But what it means is simply eliminating the IPP team’s ability to pick the services and supports that the person with the disability needs, the key promise of the Lanterman Act. The 2009 caps on respite care and Early Start are the most recent examples of “service standards.”

Under the Lanterman Act, IPP teams write plans to reflect the specific needs of individuals, but with the cuts being proposed this process would certainly be harmed dramatically. Let the policymakers know how the services and supports benefit you and the real consequences to your life and the lives of your family members.

Real life consequences to real life people throughout the state are the kinds of things you should communicate to the legislative committees in Sacramento and to your local state senator and assemblymember. Tell them the cut is just too big to bear.

Here is the best information I have as of today on the committees’ public hearings:

· Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, 9:30 a.m. or later, February 3, Room 4202, State Capitol, Sacramento.
· Senate Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, 9:30 a.m. or later, February 10, Room 4203, State Capitol, Sacramento.