Disability Services Hang In Limbo as Legislature Has Two Weeks Left to Approve A State Budget Before June 15th Deadline

The California Budget Conference Committee began its meetings this week and will continue again starting today. The Committee, which is a joint Committee of both Assemblymembers and Senators, has the task of negotiating the differences between budgets approved in both houses and sending their compromise budget to the Governor by the constitutional deadline of June 15. Much of the negotiations, however, also happen outside of the committee and instead between the Capitol’s top three leaders, Speaker Anthony Rendon, Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins, and Governor Gavin Newsom.

At stake in these final days of negotiations are hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for disability services, including regional center services, early intervention, special education, and SSI/SSP:

Regional Center Services & Early Intervention:

The Assembly’s budget rejected the Governor’s May Revise of targeting specific services for an average 18% increase, and instead use the same total amount of increase proposed in the Governor’s May Revise of approximately $170 Million ($104 Million General Fund – meaning the amount the state must pay which combines with Federal dollars to make the total amount) and make it an across-the-board increase of about 5.7% starting January 1, 2020. This is in contrast to the Senate’s action which approved a motion to include a minimum of an 8% increase to all rates that otherwise would have less than an 8% increase as proposed in the Governor’s May Revise. Click here to see a table summarizing the differences between the Assembly and Senate budget actions. Additionally, the Assembly passed $5 Million for safety net services for clients with mental health needs while the Senate did not include it in their budget.

Special Education:

The Senate approved $333 million in ongoing Proposition 98 funding to equalize special education per‑student funding rates to the 90th percentile of existing rates. The Senate also provided $200 million in ongoing Proposition 98 funding to: 1) provide a Special Education Early Intervention Grant of $4,000 per student to the school district of residence for each child receiving Individualized Education Program (IEP) services who is also enrolled in a mainstream early education setting pursuant to their IEP; 2) expand transitional kindergarten eligibility to include four-year-old children with IEPs who turn five years old after December 2 but within the same school year; and 3) require districts to provide annual reporting on services provided and the mainstreaming of children with IEPs.

The Assembly approved $333 million in ongoing Proposition 98 funding to equalize special education per‑student funding rates to the 90th percentile of existing rates. The Assembly also provided an additional $260 million in ongoing Proposition 98 funding to include four-year-olds in the count of average daily–attendance used to calculate the amount of special education funding each LEA receives. The Assembly notes intent to include funding for three year-olds in future years.

SSI/SSP

The Senate approved $52 million for a one-time Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA), effective January 1, 2020, based on the California Necessities Index, for the state portion of SSI/SSP grants. The Assembly took no action.

Advocates throughout the state are highly encouraged to take action by contacting your local legislators and discussing the importance of increased funding for disability services. Members of the Budget Conference Committee are:

Senator Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), Chair

Senator John M. W. Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa)

Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama)

Senator Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside)

Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley)

Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), Vice Chair

Assemblymember Chad Mayes (R-Yucca Valley)

Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento)

Assemblymember Jay Obernolte (R-Hesperia)

Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego)

Jordan Lindsey, Executive Director, The Arc of California

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