Proposed 2010-11 State Budget Maintains Status Quo for Regional Center System

California’s economy continues to recover at a much slower pace than many other parts of the country. As a result, the fiscal crisis that has impacted all state funded programs, including regional centers, continues.

In the current year, caseload growth system-wide has been much slower than anticipated, and it is expected that this slowdown, coupled with the savings anticipated due to the changes in the Lanterman Act last summer, will be sufficient to allow the system to come in without a deficit for 2009-10. The director of the Department of Developmental Services, Terri Delgadillo, has emphasized that if the system does not come in on budget we may be in danger of losing the entitlement through legislative action.

The proposed budget for fiscal year 2010-11, released by the Governor in January, does contain funds for caseload growth and service utilization. It also includes funds to replace those that are deducted from other state programs such as Medi-Cal and IHSS where the regional center would be the payer of last resort. The reductions and changes put into place this year, however, continue. These include the 3 percent rate reduction for regional center operations and many service providers, as well as the suspension or reduction of certain services, including respite and non-medical therapies.

The Administration has complimented the stakeholder process that worked so well last year to develop a plan for spending reductions, and this budget proposes that the group continue. While the $300 million in savings required in 2009-10 are expected to continue, the additional savings required of this system is only $25 million at this point. While this is a substantial amount of money, the impact is not as severe as cuts to other state-funded programs. Overall, the regional center system is still projected to be a $4.2 billion program in 2010-11, up from $4.0 billion in 2009-10.

Remember, however, that legislative hearings and debates will continue throughout the spring and the budget that was proposed in January is not necessarily the one that will be adopted.

At Lanterman, we want to acknowledge the tremendous cooperation we have been receiving from clients and families in the difficult task of implementing all of the trailer bill changes. As a result, we expect to be able to live within our budget this year and as a community we are doing our part towards preserving the entitlement of the Lanterman Act.

All of this takes place as this country is in the midst of the Census count that takes place every 10 years. Responses from Californians will directly affect the money the State receives from the federal government. The State could lose as much as $3 to $ 5 billion in funding for health care, transportation, and education, as well as a congressional seat and $3,000 for each person not included in the count. Given the amount of money California receives from the federal government, it is essential that we are all counted!