Our View of the Legislature: The Budget

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Yesterday, the House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees announced their proposed budget amendments for the year that will end in a few months and for the two-year cycle that will begin in July, 2022. The proposals contain some helpful funding for disability services, as well as a few items of concern.

In December, former Governor Northam submitted a proposed budget for the coming biennium.  That proposal was contained in HB 30 (Knight) and SB 30 (Howell). After the bill was introduced, legislators had the opportunity to recommend amendments to the budget. Sunday afternoon, committees and subcommittees in both the Senate and the House announced their recommendations about those proposals. Next, the full House and the full Senate will debate those recommendations, beginning later this week. Once each side votes on their version of the budget, it then goes to other side. Typically, each will reject the other’s proposal, and the two sides will form what is called a committee of conference, which will then develop a joint budget proposal prior to end of the session.

We will have more information for you about the budgets in the days to come, but as of today, a few items to note from the House bill:

  • Funding to rebase DD service provider rates
  • Funding for enhanced provider rates in Medicaid, most notably a 12.5% increase for mental health providers.
  • Limited funding for HB 241, which authorizes the use of motorized wheelchairs in nursing homes
  • Funding for HB 680, which creates targeted case management services for people with serious brain injuries
  • An additional allocation of $850,000 in independent living services
  • Funding to pay for school resource officers in every school, a decision that could endanger the lives of students with behavioral disabilities

From the Senate bill, we note:

  • No funding for targeted case management services under Medicaid for people with serious brain injuries, but increased funding for state funded case management
  • Funding for a study for a brain injury waiver
  • Limited funding for customized wheelchairs in nursing homes
  • Funding to combine maximum amounts in AT, environmental modification and electronic home based supports in the waivers

We had hoped that the state would finally fund the critically necessary adult fatality review teams, but that does not appear to have been included in either proposal.

The legislature also has before it some proposed changes to the already adopted budget for the year that will end on June 30, 2022, which is sometimes called a “caboose” budget — HB 29 (Knight) and SB 29 (Howell). In the caboose budget, the House addressed DD waiver slots that were included in the current budget but that still have not been made available to individuals who qualify. The proposed House bill establishes strict deadlines to ensure that all slots are awarded by the end of the current fiscal year.

The disAbility Law Center of Virginia seeks to advance the rights of people with disabilities in Virginia. We are available to educate policy makers about the potential impact of legislative proposals and budgetary considerations. Please let us know of any legislative proposals or budget issues that you think we should be following. Contact us at info@dlcv.org or by calling 1-800-552-3962 or 804-225-2042.