Opinion written by The Arc of Maryland: 

Governor Hogan released his FY 2018 Proposed Operating Budget on January 18, 2017.
The Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) Budget includes: 
  • Transitioning Youth (TY) Fully Funded – 789 Youth – $12,950,166.00
  • Emergency Placements – 131 individuals – $8.8M
  • Waiting List Crisis Resolution – 101 individuals – $3.8M

(Highest Category of Need on the Waiting List)

  • Waiting List Equity Fund (Elderly Caregivers) – 36 individuals – $892,355
  • Low Intensity Support Services (LISS) – 2,300 individuals – $5M
  • DSS Aging Out Placements (for youth in foster care) – 60 youth – $1.6M
  • Waiting List Initiative:
    • Family/Individual Support Capped Waiver – 400 individuals – $2.4M ($12,000 per person)
    • Community Support Capped Waiver – 400 individuals – $5M ($25,000 per person)
  • Provider Wage Increase – 2% – $20.8M. This is less than the mandated 3.5% increase under law.
The Governor’s budget fully funds Transitioning Youth exiting special education at age 21, all historically anticipated emergency placements, all individuals in the Crisis Resolution Category of the Waiting List (the highest priority of need), and establishes a Waiting List Initiative to start with 800 children, adults and families under two new capped Waivers. The DDA Waiting List is currently 8,000 individuals.

The Budget falls short in meeting the promise of the Direct Support Professionals Wage Increase, mandated at 3.5% in FY 2018. The Minimum Wage Act of 2014 created a mandate of a 3.5% rate increase annually over 4 years for DDA community services from FY 2016-2019. This increase is critical to maintaining a DDA reimbursement rate that remains above minimum wage and was intended to provide stability and financial resources to a workforce already facing severe shortages. Instead, the Governor’s Proposed Budget funds 2 % increase – $15M short per the mandated level in the law. DDA also reverted $17M of unused funds during FY 2016 to the General Fund.

Legislative budget hearings on the DDA Budget will be held on March 1 and 2. For more information, contact Cristine Marchand, Executive Director, The Arc Maryland at cmarchand@thearcmd.org. More information will be provided on state budgets of interest to people with developmental disabilities and their families and what you can do.