Governor Wolf Signed a State Budget

The General Assembly passed and Governor Wolf signed a state budget. While generally pleased with the budget for community-based supports for adults with intellectual disabilities and/or autism (funds were included to address the waiting list; last year's funding increases were maintained, etc.), concern remains with the lack of a specific increase that would help service providers recruit and retain direct support professionals (DSPs). With low unemployment rates, the competition for staff is greatly heightened. Organizations, like ACHIEVA, are finding it more and more challenging to attract highly skilled DSPs needed to support people with medical and behavioral issues. In addition, it is beyond troubling that the state budget for the Early Intervention (EI) Program (Infants and Toddlers Ages Birth to Three) is, yet again, not being increased to address inadequate rates paid to those who provide the services. At the same time the Governor's Office is touting its funding increases for infants and toddlers who receive publicly-subsidized child care, the state is cutting the budget for infants and toddlers who have disabilities. Rates for EI service providers in southwestern Pennsylvania have not been increased for over 8 years, making it increasingly challenging for EI service providers to maintain service capacity and quality. Little children with disabilities deserve better. It's not clear why infants and toddlers with disabilities are being excluded from the budget increases enjoyed by those without disabilities, but we will continue to advocate and hope for a better budget next year.

Highlights:

  • The 2018-19 budget is $32.7 billion budget compared to last year's $31.8 billion.

  • The budget does not require a broad-based tax increase.

  • Funding for adults with intellectual disability/autism increased from the Governor's proposed $1,577,019,000.00 to $1,588,812,000.00. 

  • The Preschool Early Intervention program received an increase even beyond what the Governor proposed, however, the Birth to Three Early Intervention program received a cut from $144,096,000.00 to $142,844,000.00 in funding from 2017-18 levels.

  • Special Education is slated to receive only $15M of the $20M increase proposed by the Governor.

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