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GOVERNOR O'MALLEY SLASHES FUNDS FOR PEOPLE WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES

posted Jan 9, 2015, 8:41 AM by Reda Sheinberg
NOTE DD DAY in Annapolis is FEB 19....   DD Families should flood Annapolis!    We need to push for
a Supplemental to reverse the cuts to DD Funding!   

Reda
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The following is a press release issued by the Maryland Association of Community Services. 

GOVERNOR O'MALLEY SLASHES FUNDS FOR PEOPLE WITH DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITIES

Board of Public Works Approved Proposed Budget Cuts During Today's Meeting Cuts will devastate community-based services that help individuals live and work 

(Annapolis, Md.) - The Board of Public Works today approved a major budget cut, proposed by Governor Martin O'Malley, to services for Maryland citizens with developmental disabilities. The budget cut comes on the heels of chronic and persistent underfunding that puts adults and children with developmental disabilities at greater risk due to the lack of adequate funding for the community providers that help them to live and work in the community. 

The budget cut, which is approximately $4.5 million in State general funds, triggers an additional loss of about $4 million in federal funds. The reduction cuts in half the desperately needed rate adjustment, passed by the Maryland General Assembly last year, to help community providers continue to serve people with developmental disabilities, including funding that would have been used to increase direct support staff wages. The General Assembly passed a 4 percent rate increase for FY 15 for developmental disability community services in part to help address the impact of the minimum wage increase on direct support staff. 

According to Laura Howell, executive director of the Maryland Association of Community Services, "Today&# 39;s budget cut is a devastating blow to the thousands of direct support staff across Maryland, the people with disabilities whom they support, and their families. After all of the hard work we accomplished to get funding increased last year to help retain staff during the minimum wage increase battle, this cut is particularly crushing. Our providers will absolutely struggle to hire highly skilled workers who are needed to help people with disabilities live and work. Families will be severely impacted. Non-profit community agencies that provide these services will be forced to make very difficult choices. These cuts today are in the opposite direction of where Maryland should be heading. Our state should not be balancing its budget on the backs of Maryland' s citizens with developmental disabilities. " 

The budget cut also creates even greater inequity between State employees who provide direct care in state institutions at much greater costs to taxpayers, and community-based workers who do the same work for a considerably lower wage. 

"The Developmental Disabilities provision within the minimum wage legislation last session was an effort just to maintain direct support staff wage reimbursement at a reasonable level above the State minimum wage, and to prevent these critical positions from becoming minimum wage jobs," said Maryland State Senator Thomas M. "Mac" Middleton of Charles County, Senate Finance Committee chairman, and a longtime champion for Marylanders with developmental disabilities. 

"Today&# 39;s budget cut moves state reimbursement for direct support staff even closer to the minimum wage in Maryland. Much of the progress we have made to raise the bar of expectations for supporting Marylanders with developmental disabilities will be jeopardized by this reduced funding and will continue the longstanding struggle of retaining and compensating direct support staff at a level deserving for our most vulnerable citizens." 

"The hard fought battle to increase developmental disabilities rates during last year's minimum wage hearings will continue during this upcoming session. We will look for ways to restore this critically needed funding in this year's budget and in a multi-year approach," said Senator-Elect Guy Guzzone of Howard County, who will serve on the Senate's Budget & Taxation Committee during the Maryland General Assembly that convenes next week. 

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