ATTENTION ALL INTERHAB MEMBERS! CONTACT YOUR SENATOR TODAY!
Please activate your advocacy regarding a Wednesday vote in the Senate to adopt across the board cuts of 3.4%.
This across-the-board cut is the Senate Ways and Means approach to "fixing' the State's impending financial challenges.
Senators may tell you that their proposal does not require SRS to cut our programs, and that SRS can choose to cut anything in its budget, since the specific cuts are up to SRS. Nevertheless, make your point; and remember, each person you serve is touched in many ways by State government, in addition to HCBS or SGF-only programs; and we know of no state funded program which is adequate to address the needs of persons we serve.
As regards HCBS:
As you also know, each dollar cut from HCBS costs a total of $2.50 cents, when one adds in the Federal matching that would be lost under such a plan. Therefore, an across the board cut is NOT fair to the persons we serve.
Your message MUST ask your senator to vote NO on such a plan because across the board cuts are unacceptable and deeply harmful to the interests of persons you serve and the organizations you represent.
If you have a recent event that underscores the seriousness of your current financial picture, add that as a post script to your note.
June 1, 2008
TO: Members of the Kansas Senate and
Members of the Kansas House of Representatives
FR: Tom Laing, Executive Director
InterHab: The Resource Network for Kansans with Disabilities
In recent weeks many organizations were surprised to hear from legislators who said that they believed that critical funding issues for persons with disabilities had been meaningfully addressed. You deserve our honest assessment of the session, and the view that is widely held by the many persons who worked on our advocacy this year.
Our issues were not meaningfully addressed.
In the final hours of the session, the most important piece of legislation for the disability system in more than a decade was dramatically altered in a way that left us feeling utterly defeated. House Substitute for SB 365, which passed the House with 118 votes in early April, contained a bold multi-year funding plan that established budget recommendations to eliminate the State's waiting lists for disability services and provide drastically-needed funding for your community disability direct-care professionals. The bill also contained more than $15 million in SGF funds to help disability providers 'tread water' during FY 2009 until the plan could be initiated in 2010.
However, despite the House's overwhelming support of the bill and despite thousands of letters, phone calls and e-mails from across the State urging legislative support, in the end, SB 365 was stripped of all its financial components. Instead, the legislature included a token sum of funds for these vital services in the Omnibus bill, equaling an approximate 2% increase in reimbursement rates for disability services.
2%, in a year where inflation will undoubtedly rise to twice that amount, is very disappointing, especially when one is mindful of the fact that these services have been underfunded for more than 15 years.
Here are the outcomes for developmental disability services.
Funding was appropriated for an approximate 25 persons from our waiting lists which now number around 3000 persons (of whom approximately 1400 receive no services whatsoever). This is easily the weakest effort in more than a decade to address the DD waiting list.
Reimbursement rates paid to community organizations were raised by 2%. These rates are supposed to pay for the cost of providing services in the community, including staffing, management, and all the same costs of doing business you experience in your own professions. This increase is so small that we will effectively go backwards this year, as inflation races past us again.
Even if our organizations could devote the entire 2 % to wages (and somehow ignore the rising costs of benefits, utilities, transportation, insurance, etc) the pay raise for the average $8.82 hourly wage-earner would equal 17.6 cents per hour ($1.44 per day).
Think about it in real terms as our staff try to keep their heads above water. $1.44 doesn't even buy a half gallon of gasoline.
Some legislators blamed the revenue shortage, but everyone knows there was evidently enough money to give away roughly $87 million of un-requested, un-needed, un-legislated tax cuts as a result of federal tax changes. That would have paid for all of the proposed funding increases through the year 2012 for the developmental disability service network, and would have brought more than an additional $130 million in federal matching funds into the Kansas economy, to serve Kansans with disabilities.
Some legislators said our issues came up too late in the Session. However, our issues have been raised every year, and every day this session as well, beginning with letter writing efforts as early as July of last year. No legislator should claim to be surprised by our issues. Who should be held accountable when our issues are put off until the end? Certainly not the persons on the waiting lists, nor the families and organizations who worked so hard to get information to each legislator over a period of many months.
The Future is All We Have Left.
We have annually presented the facts that confront us. No one refutes our numbers or questions the depth of our challenges. The math is simple, stark and shocking.
Our members accepted the responsibility of becoming the service alternative to the State's expensive and outmoded institutions. Our members are now being crushed not by the responsibility, but by the effects of under-funding which persists in defiance of the Kansas Developmental Disabilities Reform Act of 1995, which requires that adequate and reasonable financing be provided by the State. Thousands of Kansans with disabilities, their families and the professionals who support them feel as if the State has turned its back on persons waiting for services, and on the workers and organizations whose job it is to provide those services.
We know your work is hard, but so is the work of the community disability service network. This session has made our work harder for the coming year. We hope you will work with us for better results next session. To that end our organizations around the State will be contacting you to arrange meetings at home this summer with you.
For those of you who helped this year, or tried to help, we are grateful.
For those of you who were overwhelmed by other issues, we understand how complex this year's session became; but we urge you to place a higher priority on our issues between now and January 2009.
For those who do not believe that our issues have reached a level of urgency, and chose to invest time and resources elsewhere, we would urge you to take a closer look in your community at the challenges we face, and the persons and families who are most affected. We are confident that if you do so, you will help us in the coming year.