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VERMONT COALITION FOR DISABILITY RIGHTS

VCDR Selected Budget Language 2021

VCDR Selected Budget Language (Highlights)
FY 2022 Budget
The budget includes a 3% Medicaid rate increase for designated and specialized service agency developmental and mental health services ($3.85 million DMH and $7.43 million for DAIL), as well as language that will release the $1.5 million for loan repayment and tuition assistance for staff of the agencies who provide mental health and substance use disorder services.

The budget includes $600,000 from ARPA for Rutland Mobile Crisis Outreach. (2) $600,000 to the Department of Mental Health to fund a pilot mobile crisis intervention program in Rutland. It is the intent of the General Assembly that any continuation of this pilot program or expansion of the program to other areas of the State be designed and implemented in a manner that meets the requirements to draw federal Medicaid funding for these services as specified in ARPA. There are significant funds for an array of housing initiatives. Through a combination of ARPA and other anticipated federal funds, as well available state onetime funds, the intent of the legislature is to invest $250 million in housing initiatives over time.

The Budget also includes some of the intent of the health bill, S.120 developed by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. E.1.6.2 would expand on health care listening tour.
Sec. E.126.2 TASK FORCE ON AFFORDABLE, ACCESSIBLE HEALTH CARE; REPORT (a) Creation. There is created the Task Force on Affordable, Accessible Health Care to explore opportunities to make health care more affordable for Vermont residents and employers.

Reach Up The final legislative budget (H.439) included an agreement to eliminate the $77/month deduction that was charged against Reach Up grants when an adult in the home receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The budget also includes a critically-needed increase to the Reach Up base grant, bringing grants to families to at least the 2019/2021 standard of need (from 2008), before the 49.6% “ratable reduction” multiplier is applied. (VCDR, Voices, VLIAC, VLA and other advocates have advocated eliminating the SSI penalty since it was implemented.)
According to the budget highlight document prepared by the Legislative Joint Fiscal Office, the $2.77 million increase in base grants roughly translates to an increase of $111 in the average basic needs grant Vermont’s most economically disadvantaged families and children. A family of three outside of Chittenden County will see their maximum grant increase from $700 to $811. Notably, for the first time the budget instructs DCF to retain any unspent funds from the Reach Up budget at FY22 year end and distribute in a one-time benefit to program participants. Voices and our partners have long advocated that until the ratable reduction is eliminated and family supports meet the full standard of need, any remaining funds in the program should be kept in the budget base calculation and distributed to participants. In addition, the emergency rental housing assistance program the DCF/Economic Services Division (ESD) designed to connect RU participants with housing assistance has already served more than 1000 families and is far more effective than the program established for the general population. The goal for this fall and winter will be to assess the impact of housing security on RU families and advocate for a permanent rental subsidy for this population.

Sec. G.300 INVESTMENTS IN VERMONT’S ECONOMY, WORKFORCE, AND COMMUNITIES (a) $109,200,000 in fiscal year 2022 is appropriated from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) – Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Funds as follows: (1) $5,000,000 to the Department of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living (DAIL) to be used for grants to currently existing adult day service providers to support operating costs, program infrastructure, and COVID-19 related costs. On or before the first day of each quarter of fiscal year 2022 (July 1, 2021, October 1, 2021, January 1, 2022, and April 1, 2022), the Vermont Association of Adult Day Services shall provide a spreadsheet to the Department detailing the amount of grant funding needed by each program for each quarter. Any amount of this appropriation remaining at the end of fiscal year 2022 shall be carried forward and shall be used to support operating costs, program infrastructure, and COVID-19 related expenses. DAIL shall work with community partners to seek organizations interested in opening an adult day center in the underserved regions where adult day centers closed during the COVID-19 pandemic and shall request funding in the fiscal year 2022 budget adjustment process to provide restart grants. (2) $600,000 to the Department of Mental Health to fund a pilot mobile crisis intervention program in Rutland. It is the intent of the General Assembly that any continuation of this pilot program or expansion of the program to other areas of the State be designed and implemented in a manner that meets the requirements necessary to draw federal Medicaid funding for these services as specified in ARPA.

Sec. B.1106 FISCAL YEAR 2022 ONE-TIME GENERAL FUND APPROPRIATIONS
(7) $200,000 to the Department for Children and Families for the purpose of enabling Building Bright Futures to contract with an independent consulting entity for a childcare and early childhood education systems analysis study required by legislation enacted during the 2021 session.

(8) $125,000 to the Joint Fiscal Office to contract with a consultant to assist the Task Force on Affordable, Accessible Health Care established in Sec. E.126b of this act.
(10) $180,000 to the Agency of Administration Office of Racial Equity for activities related to health disparities and health equity. (11) $200,000 to the Department of Human Resources for racial equity training support.
(12) $126,000 to the Agency of Human Services Secretary’s Office to maintain the 211-call center. (13) $120,000 to the Department of Health for grants of $40,000 to be made to each of the three AIDS service organizations to replace grant revenue diverted during the pandemic. (14) $25,000 to the Department for Children and Families for a grant to the Vermont Donor Milk Center for statewide activities. (17) $3,700,000 to the Department for Children and Families for onetime grants to parent child centers for capital and program improvements. (18) $1,000,000 to the Department for Children and Families for a grant to the Vermont Foodbank to purchase food
(19) $500,000 to the Agency of Education to make grants to local education agencies for the purchase of locally produced foods.

Sec. 13. GRANT TO THE ASSOCIATION FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED The sum of $100,000.00 is appropriated from the General Fund to the Department of Disabilities, Aging, and Independent Living in fiscal year 2021 to be granted to the Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired for a technology training program for older Vermonters who experience decreased vision and blindness and others who are blind or visually impaired to address social isolation resulting from social distancing.

Sec. E.207 JOINT LEGISLATIVE JUSTICE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE; TRANSPORTS; STUDY; REPORT
(a) The Joint Legislative Justice Oversight Committee shall examine the current system for transporting prisoners and persons with a mental condition or psychiatric disability who are in the custody of the State, including transports provided by deputy sheriffs who are paid by the State pursuant to 24 V.S.A. § 290(b) and transports provided pursuant to contracts that certain State agencies have entered into with county sheriff’s departments. The Committee may recommend changes to the existing system and shall identify any benefits and adverse consequences related to those recommended changes. Any recommended changes shall comply with the Agency of Human Services’ policies on the use of restraints in accordance with 2017 Acts and Resolves No. 85, Sec. E.314.