Our View of the Legislature: The Budget

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Today, both the House and the Senate begin their debates on their proposed amendments to the state budgets. This is for budgets both for the year that will end in a few months and for the two-year cycle that will begin in July, 2022.

The committees announced their budget proposals on Sunday, but the details were not available until Tuesday. The proposals contain some helpful funding for disability services, as well as a few items of concern.

Of greatest concern is a Senate language amendment that would allow funding for group homes of larger sizes, putting Virginia at risk of noncompliance with its settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and at-risk for noncompliance with the integration rules of Medicaid waivers.

Both the Senate proposal and the House proposal contain support for improved brain injury services, but in very different means. The House contains funding for targeted case management under Medicaid. The Senate proposal includes increased funding for case management using state funds and funds to begin to develop a brain injury waiver. dLCV believes that all three measures are needed in order to better support our constituents with brain injuries.

Other items of note, in the House proposal:

  • Funding to rebase developmental disability (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
  • 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:

  • Limited funding for customized wheelchairs in nursing homes
  • Funding to combine maximum amounts in assistive technology (AT), environmental modification, and electronic home-based supports in the waivers

By way of background, remember that 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.  Moving forward, after each side votes on their version of the budget, the proposals then go to the 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.

The disAbility Law Center of Virginia’s mission is to advance independence, choice, and self-determination; protect legal, human, and civil rights; and eliminate abuse, neglect, and discrimination of people with disabilities through zealous and uncompromising legal advocacy and representation. 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.