2019 LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
The 2019 legislative session has ended and the Governor has signed the operating budget for the 2019-2021 biennium. During this session we had the most support in the House, while the Senate was proposing increases that would keep Supported Living at or below minimum wage across WA state. While we did not get what the House set in their proposed budget, we did get something in between. Further, Supported Living providers will not see any increase in their rates in 2019 or 2021. The biennium budget includes the following.
- Vendor Rate Increase for Supported Living, Group Homes, Group Training Homes and LSR settings $62.2M GF-S, $123.2M Total
- Increase the rate for DDA Community Residential Service Providers by 13.5% effective January 2020
- Nursing Rate Increase for Supported Living, increased rates for nursing services by 10% effective January 2020
While this is not entirely what we were hoping for, it is a 13.5% increase next year (2020) when minimum wage will increase by 12.5% on January 1, 2020. We do not get an increase to our rates in 2019 even though there was a 4.5% increase in the statewide minimum wage. For any increase to occur in January 2021 (to address the statewide minimum wage increase that will occur at that time) we will need legislative appropriation in the supplemental budget set in the 2020 short session. In addition, the 13.5% and 10% increase to nursing services rates is the first rate increase in the last 15 years to those rates.
Given there is no planned increase to address the statewide minimum wage increase that will occur on January 1, 2021 we have our work cut out for us in the 2020 legislative session. Thank you to everyone who took the time to contact their legislators and advocate for individuals with disabilities, and those who support them to live and participate in their communities. Supported Living needs each and every one of you!
Legislative session is here! PSRS staff, families, board members, and individuals we support actively advocate for Supported Living during this time. We do this to show our commitment to providing vital, life changing community services, to advocate for the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and to support not only the staff who do this critical work, but to ensure the health and stability of community residential providers across WA state. We do this because we want to see a future for Supported Living where providers are able to pay their staff livable wages, and in turn, provide consistent, quality supports that empower people with disabilities to live to their fullest potential in the community.
Unfortunately, the 2019 Supported Living Advocacy Day and rally at the state capitol have been cancelled. BUT we still need your help!
CALL TO ACTION
- Contact your legislators. Take a stand for people with disabilities, their families, direct care staff, and others by meeting with, or calling/writing your legislators. Not sure what to write? - here's some help.
- Get the Facts about Supported Living and wages, then get out the word - share it with your legislators, family, co-workers, friends, and neighbors.
- Learn more about the DSP crisis impacting Supported Living
- Contact us to learn more or find out other ways you can help advocate
This 2019 session, our legislative agenda as set by our statewide association Community Residential Services Association (CRSA) asks for an additional $99.2M GF-S for the 2019-2021 Biennium to be implemented in a three phased budget request:
- July 2019 – 4.4% Vendor Rate increase to keep pace with the minimum wage increase in January 2019
- January 2020 – 12.5% Vendor Rate increase commensurate with the minimum wage increase
- January 2021 - 10% Vendor Rate increase to keep pace with minimum wage and begin to stabilize the direct support workforce, address the ongoing crisis and meet the increasing demand for placements
Advocacy is so important when it comes to Supported Living. People with developmental and intellectual disabilities are rarely a priority for statewide funding. Staff must deal with sky rocketing living costs while wages stagnate.
PSRS is committed to bringing visibility, voice, and attention to the challenges endured by supported living providers, the people we support, and our dedicated staff. We always need help - you can get involved. Learn more by reading some of our stories, and talking to your legislators.
Check out some of the stories below to find out how you can be an advocate for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and for supported living. Visit our Resources page for more.
Do you know your legislators? Find them. Contact them.