The Texas 85th Legislative Session
Dion White, Center for Life Resources
AAIDD Texas Chapter Treasurer
The 85th Texas Legislature has started and every day new bills are being proposed into this session. This session the State budget will need to reduce spending for the next budget cycle and as a result there are many lawmakers trying to minimize this effect on Texans.
Regarding services in the IDD field there are some exception items in the budget we will need to keep an eye on. Firstly, there is a request to maintain waiver caseloads as indicated in the 2015 session.
There is also an exceptional item to maintain ECI caseloads. The ECI program has consistently seen cuts in funding over the years but the need for services has steadily increased over time throughout the State.
There is an exceptional item which addresses wages for staff in the IDD field. It has become increasingly harder to find staff to help with these much-needed programs. By increasing the wage that would help address the shortage of workers across the State.
The interest list for waiver services still needs to be reduced and this will be an ongoing need for many years to come. There is also a concern that further cuts may impact programs such as ECI, Autism, community based intermediate care facilities and others.
It is important that your local Legislator hear from you and that you convey your concerns regarding services in the IDD field. It is important to let our Legislators know the positive impact these programs have directly on people’s lives. It is also important to let them know of the possible negative impact the loss or reduction in the program will have on a person’s life. It is through action that change can take place.
Texas continues to grow with many people moving here every day. With the increased population, there are many areas in the State which will need additional funding. It is important that Legislators hear from those who are either directly or indirectly effected by programs in the IDD field. I encourage everyone to stay informed and communicate with your Legislator before the session ends.