Huge Win! New CA State Budget Increases Disability Funding in Key Areas
On Monday, June 28, after a long negotiation process, the California State Legislature finally passed a $262.6 billion budget, which Governor Newsom signed into law on Tuesday. The bill undoes cuts made during the pandemic and increases funding to critical public services such as healthcare, schools, and childcare, and is particularly beneficial for people with disabilities as well as their staff, caregivers, and families. Some noteworthy provisions include:
- A five-year funding plan for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, starting at $89.9 million for the 2021–2022 fiscal year and increasing to $1.233 billion by 2025
- $550 million toward dispute resolutions for those who qualified for disability services but received none or very little during the pandemic
- The establishment of an Office of the Ombudsperson, which will investigate complaints for the Self-Determination Program
- An increase to special education funding by $656 million and a 4.05% cost of living adjustment for all SpEd programs
- Funding to create a program for direct support professionals to receive training and certification, which will likely help increase workforce numbers and bolster the professional development of support staff
- The development of mobile crisis teams with the START program (Systematic, Therapeutic, Assessment, Resources, and Treatment). START is an evidence-based program that is person-centered and trauma-informed. START units will be able to provide 24-hour crisis response and prevention services to those with disabilities.
Advocates are calling the bill a significant first step toward increasing support for people with disabilities, families, and caregivers. These provisions give some long-overdue funding to services and education programs, training for professionals, and providing platforms for individuals with disabilities and their families to advocate for their rights.
How the money will be allocated remains to be seen. CA assemblyman Jim Frazier, who has long advocated for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, told the Daily Republic, “Now it’s a matter of how we implement it to help the most people that we can. We’re not really augmenting funding, we’re bringing back years of cuts.” For their part, the Arc says restoring Regional Center’s soc-rec funding is a priority — which will have a huge impact on the Self-Determination Program — as well as investments in Early Start programs.
Special X’s own Public Benefits Specialist Lisa Concoff Kronbeck is looking forward to learning more about the possibilities this budget increase will bring, and says it will improve opportunities and outcomes for people with disabilities. “I’m especially interested in learning more about the crisis response team, because this could reduce police violence against people with disabilities when their families call 911 for help during a crisis. I’m encouraged to see funding for reduction of service coordinator caseloads, as well as an Ombudsman to help resolve issues with the Self-Determination Program as it becomes available to consumers statewide,” Lisa says.
What next steps do you think California needs to take going forward? Are there provisions you feel are missing? Let us know!