On my way to the Capitol for the Governor’s Budget Address.
Budget and Appropriations – Sign-On Letters for Organizations to Support Federal Funding
Congress will soon decide how to divide its available spending for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 among its 12 appropriations subcommittees (see following article for more details). Organizations concerned with community-based programs and services and other issues are working together to urge Congress to provide the highest possible funding level for the appropriations subcommittees that funds these program areas. Interested organizations may participate in the following sign-on letters:
- The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee: This will help ensure more funding for programs like the DD Councils, Protection and Advocacy, IDEA Early Intervention, Supported Employment, and many more. View the sign-on letter and click here to sign your organization on by COB February 17 (TOMORROW). Please note, only organizations, not individuals, may sign on. Please share the letter and encourage organizations in your network to sign. If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Subcommittee: This will help ensure that the THUD Subcommittee has resources to fully fund all housing programs — including vital programs for people with disabilities like the HUD Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities program. View the sign-on letter and click here to sign your organization on by February 19. Please note, only organizations, not individuals, may sign on. Please share the letter and encourage organizations in your network to sign. If you have any questions, please email email@example.com.
Major Events Last Week
Budget & Appropriations – President’s FY 2017 Budget Request Released; Most Disability-Related Programs Level Funded
The Obama Administration submitted its $4.1 trillion Budget Request for FY 2017 to Congress on February 9. The budget would achieve $955 billion in deficit reduction over 10 years from targeted spending cuts and increased taxes for high-income households. While most disability-related programs were generally level funded, the budget included a few funding increases for specific programs. A few of the highlights for the disability community are:
- Medicaid Expansion: Under current law, the Affordable Care Act covered the full costs of the Medicaid expansion through calendar year 2016 before gradually reducing the level of support to 90% after the first three years. The Budget Request would provide states that have not yet expanded their Medicaid programs the same three year 100% Federal support that states that expanded in 2014 received, regardless of when the state takes up the option. It is intended to be an incentive for states to expand Medicaid to non-elderly individuals with income below 133% of the poverty line (roughly $26,700 for a family of three).
- Family Support: The Budget includes more than $2 billion for the Paid Leave Partnership Initiative to assist up to five States to launch paid leave programs. It would also expand eligibility for unemployment insurance to workers who must leave a job for compelling family reasons, as well as to part-time, low-wage, and intermittent workers.
- IDEA: Preschool Grants and the IDEA Infants and Families program would receive an $80 million increase over 2016, including funding to help identify, develop, and scale-up evidence-based practices for early identification of and intervention for children with learning and developmental delays.
- Supported Employment: State VR agencies would receive an increase of $3 million to provide extended services for up to four years to eligible youth with the most significant disabilities, as allowed by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014.
In addition, the proposed FY 2017 budget does not include a harmful benefit cut that had appeared in several prior budgets—a proposal to cut Social Security Disability Insurance by the amount of any Unemployment Insurance received by a beneficiary who attempted to return to work but lost their job through no fault of their own. The Arc and many other disability groups have strongly opposed proposals to cut these earned benefits.
Unfortunately, the budget fails to provide any funding for new units under the Section 811 Project Rental Assistance (811 PRA) program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Proposed funding is only sufficient to maintain existing units. New 811 PRA units are urgently needed to address the nationwide crisis in integrated, affordable, accessible housing for people with disabilities.
The President’s Budget signals the administration’s priorities but does not have the force of law. The next step in the budget and appropriations process is for the House and Senate to develop their own overall budget proposals, taking the President’s Budget Request into consideration. The Arc and other advocates will be working to ensure that Members of Congress understand the importance of these and other programs as Congress begins to develop individual funding bills over the spring and summer. See a listing of proposed funding amounts for specific disability-related programs here. See the President’s FY 2017 Budget overview here.
Disability Policy Seminar Registration Is Open
Please join us for the 2016 Disability Policy Seminar (DPS) April 11-13. For the early bird rate, register on or before March 11. Learn more about developments in public policy affecting employment, education and home and community based supports and services. The seminar will also include sessions on voting rights and what nonprofits can do in an election year. To register and learn more about the program, please visit the DPS site.
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423