The Pennsylvania General Assembly passed and Governor Wolf signed into law the State Fiscal Year 2022/23 General Fund Budget on July 8, 2022. The $45.2 billion spending plan represents a 2.9 percent increase in state spending over the previous fiscal year. Senate Bill 1100 passed the House with a vote of 180-20 and the Senate 47-3. State departments will be sharing details of how the funds will be allocated later this summer, and we will provide updates when that information is available.
Highlights for now include:
The Intellectual Disabilities (ID) Community Waiver line item includes funding to provide Consolidated Waiver services for 100 new people from the Emergency Waiting List and Community Living Waiver services for 732 new people from the Emergency Waiting List.
The ID Community Waiver line item also includes the funding proposed by the Governor to continue the rate update implemented in January 2022.
Special education received the $100 million increase proposed by the governor.
Early intervention received the governor-proposed increase of $9.3 million for the Part C (infants and toddlers) program and $10 million for the Part B (children ages 3-5) program.
Vocational Rehabilitation (employment services for people with disabilities) received level funding from the previous year.
Of special note:
The Human Services Fiscal Code established the “Home and Community Based Services for Individual with Intellectual Disabilities Augmentation Account” in which future savings from the downsizing and closures of the four remaining state centers and any year-over-year decreases to the state center appropriation will be redirected – the funds can be used for the ID Community Waiver line item to provide for people on the emergency waiting list and/or increase salaries of direct support professionals (DSPs). This was an idea that Achieva staff worked on with House Majority Leader Benninghoff to implement.
The Education Fiscal Code includes a one-year extension of Act 66 of 2021. This extension allows students who turned 21 during the 2021-2022 school year or who will turn 21 before the start of the 2022-2023 school year to re-enroll for the 2022-2023 school year and continue to receive services.
House Resolution 212 passed with the budget creating a legislative task force on services provided to individuals with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, and autism; directing the Joint Commission on State Government (JCSG) to study the home and community-based service system; and, creating a stakeholder advisory committee to advise the JCSG.
Despite a record excess of revenue and unparalleled advocacy from people with disabilities, families, and providers, the Wolf Administration and members of the General Assembly failed to authorize additional funding to increase compensation for DSPs supporting people with ID and Autism.
Thanks to the historic statewide media campaigns, tens of thousands of emails, and hundreds of in-person and virtual meetings, Pennsylvania’s legislators are more aware and informed of the need to raise rates to address the DSP shortage and provide more funding for the 5,000 people on the Emergency Waiting List.
This year, Achieva and The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh were proud to work with The Provider Alliance, The Arc of PA, and RCPA to take our message to Pennsylvania elected officials. We were especially proud to work with many families who bravely told their stories about the toll that 24/7 caregiving and the DSP shortage are taking on their lives. Our work is not finished, and our advocacy will continue on behalf of children and adults with intellectual disabilities and autism, their families, and DSPs.