Mar 12, 2012

Final legislative report for 2012 Session

Developmental Disabilities
Legislative Session Report #9
By Kingsley Ross

Summary: The final week of the session focused principally on appropriations for people interested in developmental disabilities. The Legislature adjourned sine die at 11:59 Friday night.

Action during week 9: The Senate and House reached agreement on the General Appropriations Act (HB5001) and passed it late Friday night. For the Waiver, the results are shown below.

---------------------FY 11-12 --- Gov Recs for FY 12-13 --- FY 12-13 Approp

APD Waiver Budget $810,437,372 $796,125,002 $877,061351

FY 11-12 Deficit NA $62,918,113 $46,527,463

Proviso language for the Community Intermediate Care for the Developmentally Disabled (ICF/DD) program was adopted that clarifies how reductions should be taken and language implying that the state would reduce the capacity of the program was deleted.

The Adults with Disabilities issue was funded at $10.8 million, almost a million dollars more than reported earlier. CARD centers received $5.5 million, a 10% increase over this year.

Neither SB 1516, HB 1737 nor SB 1990 modifying FS 393 passed.

Action Needed. Please thank the Appropriation chairs for their support of services to people with developmental disabilities. Please contact them using the information below.

(863) 385-5251

(239) 417-6270

(863) 679-4847

(772) 219-1665

Background Analysis: The session ended much better than anyone could have expected when it began. The increase in funding for the Waiver is very substantial given the revenue context.

In addition, while the amount for the deficit fell short of what advocates and APD wanted, it should not substantially hinder APD. At a minimum, APD will carry forward a deficit from this fiscal year into next. Something they have done for, at least, the last two fiscal years. At worse, APD could try to make it up as the iBudget is implemented by insisting on more reductions. It will also make it extremely hard to address the waitlist. Nevertheless, the extra $77 million goes a long way in softening any impact.

The fact that there were no changes to Chapter 393 adds to the positive picture. It was only a few weeks ago that we were facing the prospect of having “core services” codified in Florida statutes. APD will now have to implement the iBudget without the kind of detailed authority they wanted. This could make their actions more vulnerable to administrative and legal challenges which may help families if they find it necessary to challenge what is happening to the services for their children.

Unfortunately, with the death of the SB 1990 and the others, went the last chance to pass language to fix the issue related to funding transportation services for people served on the Waiver. There were simply no other bills moving on which to amend the language, so that remains unfinished business. The down side is that consumers and agencies will have to cope with this and the loss of other “non-extraordinary” (read “non-core”) services that APD will attempt to eliminate.

So the agenda for next year is already forming - the carry forward APD deficit, the de facto implementation of core services as the iBudget is rolled out and the burgeoning waitlist. In addition, there will be a new crop of legislators to replace those who are terming out or running for other offices. This requires a renewed effort to educate them and returning legislators. It needs to begin now or we are going to find ourselves during next year’s regular session trying to explain complex issues to people who don’t understand why it is important for their constituents. The effort needs to center on consumers and their parents meeting with legislators and telling them their stories. There is no one more effective in explaining why these services are important.