2018-19 Budget Issues Affecting People with Disabilities
2018-19 Budget Issues Affecting People with Disabilities
Overview of Proposed Budget
Governor Brown released his 2018-19 budget proposal on Wednesday, January 10, 2018. He proposed a $190 million budget that recognizes a healthy revenue growth this year and projected for next year. It also reflects his budget priorities of ensuring that there is a solid surplus for an inevitable recession and federal budget uncertainties; paying-down existing debts and liabilities; and fully funding K-12 education. For those living in poverty and persons with disabilities the budget is essentially a status quo budget that still leaves significant gaps between needs and available services.
The focus now shifts to the Legislature as it reviews over the next few months the governor’s proposal and marks it with its own priorities. Disability Rights California (DRC) will continue to advocate for a budget that more closely meet the needs of persons with disabilities. The following are some of the key items in the budget that will be a focus DRC advocacy.
Courts/Access to Justice
The state courts’ budget includes $150 million intended to improve Californian’s access to justice. The majority of the funding is directed to trial court operations. The budget also includes $19 million, on top of an existing $30 million, for court self-help services to assist persons without lawyers with their legal issues and $4 million to expand court interpreter services.
The proposed budget maintains the 2017-18 funding of $10 million for another year the Equal Access Fund which funds, in part, legal aid programs, including DRC.
The proposed budget includes an increase of $322.5 million Proposition 98 General Fund (GF) to support Community College (CC) districts transition to a student-focused funding formula, cost-of-living adjustment, and enrollment growth. It also includes $120 million for a California Online College to establish a fully online community college.
Community Services Program
The proposed budget includes a net 2018-19 year increase of $361.3 million in regional center OPS and POS compared to the updated current year budget due to an estimated caseload increase of 15,187 over the 2017-18 caseload and a $178 million POS increase to reflect the 2018 and 2019 minimum wage increases.
The proposed budget includes a net decrease of $119.2 million from the revised 2017-18 budget in 2018-19 due to largely increased resident community placements and staffing compensation and retirement adjustments.
Community Placement Plan
The proposed budget includes a $2.8 million increase in 2018-19 for developmental center (DC) closure-specific CPP funding to fund placement expenditures for additional DC movers. DRC will continue to evaluate the adequacy of community safety and work to ensure that there are suitable community living options for individuals who live in restrictive community institutions or are at risk of placement there and that there is an effective and timely process for securing health and safety waivers.
Safety Net Resources
There is a $5.6 million decrease due to the removal of one-time funding provided in 2017-18 for the Community Services Program to develop safety net resources.
Social Recreation and Camping
The budget does not propose to restore remaining cuts including social recreation and camping.
The budget proposes to restore the uniform 14-day holiday schedule, which was not enacted because of litigation that has now ended and therefore reduces the budget by $5.6 million.
The Governor signed a comprehensive package of 15 housing bills in 2017 to address the existing housing shortage crisis. That package included a real estate transaction fee that will generate $258 million annually for affordable housing production. The legislation also places a $4 billion bond on the 2018 ballot for voter approval to increase funding for various housing programs. The housing package has made a significant start to addressing California’s housing needs but as the authors of the bills recognized, it was only a start. The proposed budget does not contain any new housing funding.
There are no new significant changes in the IHSS program in the proposed budget. It does include $27.8 million GF increase for county administrative costs based on workload and budget assumptions about how many cases a social worker can manage for new requirements, including federal overtime regulations. There is also $29.9 million GF increase to implement paid sick leave for IHSS providers beginning July 1, 2018.
There is no funding included for the development of an Electronic Visit Verification system required by the federal Cures Act. It is the intent of the Administration to include that in the Governor’s May revise when there will be better estimates on system costs.
The proposed budget includes a $1.5 billion GF overall increase from 2017-18 budget, reflecting a baseline approach to keeping Affordable Care Act progress intact. The increases include $200 million for the Medi-Cal expansion population. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), California increased the population eligible for Medi-Cal. The federal government initially paid for 100% of the expansion but as provided under the ACA, that amount will gradually decrease to 90% by 2020. For 2018-2019, the federal government pays 94% and the state pays 6%.
Of the total Medi-Cal budget, the proposed budget also includes $851 million of the revenues from the Proposition 56 tobacco tax allocated to health care treatment. This includes supplemental provider payments and rate increases approved in 2017. Of this amount, $233million will go to physician and dental payments and $32 million towards a 50% increase for home health providers in fee-for-service Medi-Cal who support in-home care for children and adults.
Notably lacking is any mention of closing the funding gap in Medi-Cal eligibility that discriminates against low-income seniors and people with disabilities. Under the Aged & Disabled (A&D) eligibility threshold, full-scope Medi-Cal requires a substantially higher share of cost, forcing some seniors and people with disabilities to choose between paying rent and other expenses, or paying hundreds of dollars a month for Medi-Cal.
Mental Health/State Hospitals/Incompetent to Stand Trial
While the proposed budget does not contain new funding for mental health services it does include an expansion of $117 million to address the need of providing treatment for criminal defendants that have been found Incompetent to Stand Trial (IST). The largest majority of the funding ($100 million) will be used to develop state-county partnerships over the next three years to increase diversion of mentally ill offenders into community-based treatment alternatives and create additional diversion programs. There is also $15 million specifically for Los Angeles County for treatment options in the community.
The proposed budget also includes $16 million jail-based competency treatment beds and $68 million for state hospitals bed increases.
Secretary of State
The budget provides $134.3 million GF to support the purchase of hardware, software, and initial licensing for the replacement of voting systems and technology in all 58 counties. The investment will modernize voting equipment to ensure the security of elections, expand voting opportunities, and to improve disability and language access.
The proposed budget includes $10 million in ongoing Proposition 98 Funds for Special Education Local Plan Areas (SELPAs) to work with county offices of education to provide technical assistance to districts to improve student outcomes as part of the statewide system of support and $100 million to increase and retain special education teachers. It also allocates $167 million to increase the availability of inclusive early education and care for children aged 0 to 5 years old, especially in low-income areas and in areas with relatively low access to care.
The proposed budget does not include any new increase in the SSP grant. The previous suspension of the cost of living increase and the 2011 cuts have not been restored. Nearly 72 percent of the 1.3 million recipients are disabled or blind. The proposed budget does recognize that there will be a 2.6 percent federal cost-of-living increase in 2019 but grants still lag dramatically fro