After a Decade of Reductions and Three Consecutive Years of Massive Cuts, Regional Center System Spared
After more than a decade of on-going major reductions, Governor Jerry Brown's proposed 2013-2014 State Budget will not call for any new reductions to the developmental services budget that funds programs and services for over 260,000 children and adults with developmental disabilities. The budget plan, released January 10, 2013, also does not call for any new reductions to the Medi-Cal program, to In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS), Healthy Families or other major health and human service programs. It does however, call for the delay in the implementation of a controversial plan to shift hundreds of thousands of people with disabilities, the blind and seniors eligible for both Medicare and Medi-Cal into Medi-Cal managed care type plans in 8 counties. The new managed care plans will be phased in starting September 2013.
The Governor's budget assumes that the existing 3.6% across the board cut in In-Home Supportive Services hours for all recipients will sunset as scheduled, ending on June 30, 2013. But the plan does project that the State will prevail this year in the federal courts which have blocked a previously enacted 20% cut in IHSS hours for most IHSS recipients. Analysts assume that the cut in hours will be implemented in November 2013.
During his budget announcement, Governor Brown declared that California for the first time in years is deficit-free. But his statement contrasts data from the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO). The Legislative Analyst's Office has been providing fiscal and policy advice to the Legislature for more than 70 years. It is known for its fiscal and programmatic expertise and nonpartisan analyses of the state budget. The LAO reported in November that the state will still face a $1.9 billion shortfall; despite voters' approval of new income tax rates on high earners and a temporary hike in the sales tax. That sum is still a far cry from the $25 billion deficit gap that California experienced just two short years ago.
"The state's economic recovery, prior budget cuts and the additional, temporary taxes provided by Proposition 30 have combined to bring California to a promising moment: the possible end of a decade of acute state budget challenges," the LAO said in its report. "Our economic and budgetary forecast indicates that California's leaders face a dramatically smaller budget problem in 2013-14 compared to recent years."
What is even more encouraging is the fact that the LAO says there is a strong possibility of surpluses starting at $1 billion in fiscal year 2014-15, growing to more than $7 billion in 2017-18. But that depends on the governor and lawmakers controlling program growth. Additionally, numerous advocates will likely demand for existing cuts to be reversed given the additional money available.