In an effort to keep our stakeholders informed about the state of California budget, and how the budget will impact funding, as well as programs and services, we post news on “Budget Watch”. This page features updates from the Governor and Legislature, links to important news articles and various budget and advocacy related web sites, as well as important information about how you can get involved to make a difference. Visit this page regularly to keep current on budget issues.
Big news, and more action needed now
For those feeling fatigued by the fight to save our service and who want to skip the explanations to go right to the action, click here to email your legislators -– no matter how many times you’ve contacted them before, or how recently. This is a new message based on new developments.
As most of you know, it will take you about 20 seconds.
For those who want to know what the new developments are, read on.
Three key senators have introduced a bill in to give our community services the emergency 10% across-the-board funding increase the Lanterman Coalition has been seeking all year. Senators Jim Beall, Bill Monning and Fran Pavley introduced the bill in the special legislative session that allows us [ok, requires us] to keep fighting after we got nothing to save our services in the budget that Governor Brown signed a week ago.
The Beall-Monning-Pavley bill also would require the state to develop a 10-year financial sustainability plan to ensure that the developmental services system effectively serves all individuals with developmental disabilities –- meeting another key Lanterman Coalition request.
And it would require the state to cover the community service providers’ costs for minimum wage increases, as The Arc-UCP and other groups also have been working for. We support a minimum wage increase -- but if the state doesn’t pay for it, it will just push move providers off the cliff.
The bill is known as SBx2 1 (or you might see it as SB1x2), meaning it’s the first Senate bill in the second extraordinary session that started June 19.
We’re focusing our advocacy on this bill starting with the first hearing on it, whenever that is. Please stay tuned and plan to come to Sacramento then if at all possible. If you’re a family member or self-advocate and can’t get to the Capitol on your own, please talk to your service provider about bussing you and others here. Many providers, especially in the Bay Area and Central Valley, did that in 2009 and 2010 -- and it produced huge crowds that really made a difference in stopping cuts that would have spelled the end of the Lanterman Act.
Ominous but also potentially exciting news
Senate Bill 3 would give California working people a big minimum-wage increase starting January 1, 2016, going up every year thereafter to keep up with inflation. That would be very good news for workers with developmental disabilities and for the dedicated and often grossly under-paid workers who work in our service system –- except for one big problem.
The problem is that our service providers are on the brink of financial collapse, and the costs of the minimum-wage increase would push some of them over the brink. We’re seeking an amendment similar to the provision in SBx2 1 to require the state to cover the costs. Our providers have nowhere else to turn for these mandated expenses.
Senator Mark Leno, the author of SB 3, asked us to withhold our opposition to the bill on the Senate floor while he worked to get the funding in the budget, and we agreed. For me personally, it was a big relief not to have to oppose a minimum wage bill -- or any bill by Senator Leno, one of our community’s most important supporters. He and we both kept our parts of the deal, no matter what you might have heard. But the budget that the Legislature passed and Governor Brown signed left out the funding he and we asked for, so now we have to fight to stop the bill unless it is amended to put the funding back in.
So it’s ominous for our community if the bill passes as-is, exciting if it passes with our amendment, and status-quo if it doesn’t pass at all.
The first Assembly hearing is this Wednesday (July 8) in the Labor and Employment Committee. There probably will be more after that.
As always, thank you for your advocacy.
Public Policy Director
The Arc & United Cerebral Palsy California Collaboration
1225 Eighth Street, Suite 350, Sacramento, CA 95814