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Governor releases budget; NCGA begins budget process

Gov. Roy Cooper released his two-year $25.2 billion budget proposal, a 5.4% increase over last year’s enacted budget, with a clear focus on education, health care, and the state’s infrastructure. Among the highlights was a 9.1% average raise for teachers over two years, a one-time 2% cost-of-living adjustment for retired state employees, and Medicaid expansion. The governor’s budget outlines the priorities of the administration and may or may not be considered as the NC General Assembly begins the process of determining budget priorities and passing a budget bill.

Here are some key budget highlights that overlap with ASNC’s public policy priorities:

  • Expand Medicaid to cover 500,000 people in North Carolina who currently are not receiving Medicaid and are unable to enroll in Affordable Care Act health-care plans through the marketplace.
  • Invest in affordable housing: Two proposals in this section are targeted to help people with disabilities live in their communities.
    • $10 million for the Housing Trust Fund to provide flexible funding for affordable housing and permits including housing for people with disabilities
    • $7.2 million for the Community Living Housing Fund to increase access to housing for people with disabilities
  • $1 million in state-of-the-art adaptive equipment and assistive technologies to help people with disabilities live, work, and learn in their community. This funding will also help people who are blind and/or disabled return to work.
  • Funding to provide sustainability to the Money Follows the Person program. MFP provides support in transitioning people with disabilities from facilities into community settings.
  • Innovation waiver funding to allow for additional slots to open in January 2020. Funding in the budget is close to $5,000,000 split up over two budget years.

 

Work underway on NCGA budget legislation

The General Assembly has started its own work on the state budget. This year, the NC House takes the lead by creating and voting on its budget proposal first, with the Senate’s to follow.  Joint Appropriations committees have been reviewing revenue forecasts and looking at state budget spending for the past two years, while individual appropriations committees and other legislative committees are looking at individual bills with budget implications. Target budget numbers should be released to the committees soon.

Joint DHHS Appropriations has reviewed the governor’s budget and discussion has been focused on three key areas: Medicaid, the Medicaid forecast, and the relocation of DHHS from Dix Campus. The discussion included highlights such as the impact of Medicaid expansion (adding over 500,000 eligible people in the first year and over 600,000 in year two). The Medicaid forecast projected .3% growth in year one and .5% growth in year two. It was pointed out that roughly 22% of North Carolinians use some level of service, which reflects a slight uptick in enrollees.

The Autism Society of North Carolina is monitoring several bills including:

  • A bill was filed last week to appropriate $2 million in additional recurring funds to support courses for resident full-time students who are enrolled in a four- or eight-semester certificate accomplishment program approved as a Comprehensive Transition Program (CTP). (A CTP is a higher education program designed to prepare students with intellectual and developmental disabilities for employment.) House Bill 351, Catherine’s Law was filed by Reps. Donna White, Jon Hardister, Dean Arp, and Larry Potts and has been assigned to the House Committee on Education-Universities.
  • Three bills that have passed the NC House would expand on recommendations by the School Safety Commission.

 

Advocating for you

ASNC uses a variety of strategies to advocate for our public policy priorities. In the past few months, we have worked with partner coalitions to present a united front on priorities for state spending and worked collectively to advocate for them. We have met directly with appointed and elected officials including members of the governor’s team on education and health and human services. We have met with members of the General Assembly to ask for increases to special education funding, health care and disability services funding, Innovations waiver slots, and support for other autism services. In post-election years, we educate new legislators on autism, the array of needs of people on the autism spectrum, and the opportunities and skills they bring to North Carolina communities.

As always, we encourage you to tell your story to elected officials as we continue our advocacy efforts; find helpful tips on our website.

If you have questions about the current legislative session, ASNC policy targets, or the North Carolina budget process, please contact Jennifer Mahan, Director of Public Policy, jmahan@autismsociety-nc.org or 919-865-5068.

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