Senate passes the Human Services Reform Omnibus Budget Bill

The Senate passed the Human Services Reform Omnibus Budget Bill this week. Later, it was incorporated into the Health and Human Services Omnibus Budget Bill and now it heads to a conference committee.

There is a range of bipartisan items included in this bill and many provisions that will strengthen disability services. Notably, there is an increase in PCA rates and other home care rates, new grants focused on self-advocacy and inclusion for people with disabilities, and several provisions to support family childcare providers. The main concerns raised with this bill are not with the items included, but rather how they are being funded and what is left out due to the zero-budget target.

This bill allocates a significant amount of federal relief funds to pay for programs related to mental health, substance use disorder, and childcare. The programs these funds are going to have bipartisan support. However, we’re still waiting for clear guidance on how this funding can be used and how long it will be available.

New state dollars are found primarily through placing funding caps on the Developmental Disabilities (DD) and Community Access for Disability Inclusion (CADI)medical assistance waivers. Legislators and advocates raised concerns that this budgeting method, which has been used in the past, could again result in waitlists that negatively impact people with disabilities’ access to services and supports. The budget target also means that some important items are not being funded such as homelessness shelter and services and the operating expenses for the Department of Human Service’s Direct Care and Treatment program.

As this bill heads to conference committee, Senate DFLers will continue to build on the positive items in the bill and work to make sure these areas of concern are addressed. (SF 383)