Home > Uncategorized > Governor’s proposed Fiscal ’22 increase to DDS corporate residential providers is apparently higher than what the state is reporting

Governor’s proposed Fiscal ’22 increase to DDS corporate residential providers is apparently higher than what the state is reporting

While we knew that Governor’s Baker’s proposed Fiscal 2022 state budget includes a major increase to the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) corporate provider-based residential system, we didn’t know how high that proposed increase actually is.

That’s because the amount of Baker’s increase appears to be under-reported by some $36 million on the state’s Mass.gov website.

The state budget site on Mass.gov currently lists the governor’s proposed funding for the provider residential line item (5920-2000) as $1.41 billion for the coming fiscal year. That would amount to a $121 million, or 9.4%, increase over the amount appropriated for the current fiscal year. That’s what we reported in our COFAR Blog post on February 2.

But according to the nonpartisan Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MBPC), which tracks the state budget, Baker’s real proposed funding for the provider residential line item is $1.44 billion – an amount $36.4 million higher than the number reported on Mass.gov. The real increase being proposed by Baker is $157 million, or 12.2%.

The reason for the higher funding amount, according to the MBPC, is a proposed, but unreported transfer by the administration of $36.4 million to the provider residential line item from another DDS line item — the Turning-22 account (line item 5920-5000).

The provider residential line item is one of five DDS accounts to which the administration has proposed transferring a total of $55.4 million from the Turning-22 account. Turning-22 funds programs for persons entering the DDS system at the age of 22.

The Mass.gov site lists proposed Fiscal 22 funding for the Turning-22 account of $79.9 million, which would be an increase over the current year of $54.9 million, or 219%. But as a result of the line-item transfers, rather than providing an increase of $54.9 million to the Turning-22 line item, the governor’s FY 22 budget would actually cut the Turning-22 line item by $877,900, according to the MBPC.

It’s not clear to us why the administration has proposed the transfers among the DDS accounts, and it remains to be seen whether the House Ways & Means Committee, which is now considering the governor’s FY22 budget, will adopt the  transfers.

It’s also not clear that the administration is intentionally trying to mislead Mass.gov website users in failing to include the amounts transferred among the line items. Nevertheless, the misleading reporting is worrisome to us for a number of reasons.

One reason is that we have long been concerned that the provider residential line item has been steadily increased by successive administrations and by the Legislature at the expense of state-run programs and other accounts. It now appears to be getting an even larger increase than is being reported publicly.

We contacted the MBPC earlier this week after noticing several discrepancies between the DDS line item numbers on he Mass.gov site and the numbers that can be accessed via the MBPC’s online “Budget Browser.”

The Budget Browser is a database of state budget line item amounts since Fiscal 2001, and it provides additional numbers adjusted for inflation.

An MBPC analyst confirmed the DDS line-item discrepancies, and explained the transfer situation to us. The MBPC received a list of the transfers from the administration and forwarded the list to us. The analyst said the transfers themselves are an internal accounting process used in comparing budget numbers over multiple years. If that’s the case, it is still not clear to us why those adjusted numbers are not reported on Mass.gov.

The transfers are displayed in the chart below, along with the governor’s DDS budget amounts as reported on Mass.gov, and the adjusted amounts available from the MBPC via its Budget Browser.

Governor’s budget overstates proposed cut to DDS Day and Transportation accounts

In addition to the proposed transfer of funding to the provider residential line item, Baker has proposed a transfer of $9.6 million from Turning-22 to the Community Day and Work line item.

Based on the Mass.gov site, it appears Baker proposed an overall cut to the Community Day line item of $36.6 million. But due to the transfer from the Turning-22 account, the governor’s proposed cut to the Community Day account would actually be $25 million. That is still a concerning cut, but the transfer would make that cut smaller than it appears on the Mass.gov site.

Baker has proposed additional transfers from the Turning-22 account to the DDS Transportation line item ($4.7 million); Autism Omnibus line item ($4 million), and Respite and Family Services ($613,000).

No transfers proposed into state-funded program line items

Baker has proposed zero transfers to state-run accounts such as the state-operated group homes and developmental centers.  As we reported, Baker’s FY 22 budget would shortchange state-operated group homes and developmental centers.

The state-operated group home line item would be cut by $898,600 under the governor’s budget, when adjusted for inflation. The developmental center line item would, as usual, be cut — this time by $2.1 million.

As we’ve previously noted, the major increases in funding to the provider-based line item since FY12 have enabled the corporate providers in the DDS system to garner sizeable surplus revenues in the intervening years. Those surpluses have enabled the providers to provide yearly increases in executive salaries, but have not translated into living wages for direct-care workers employed by them.

We will submit testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee shortly, raising our concerns about the unreported DDS transfers. We are particularly concerned and have questions about the major transfer of funds out of the Turning-22 account.

We would also urge the administration to correct the Mass.gov budget site to reflect the true line item numbers under Baker’s Fiscal 22 budget proposal.

  1. Glo & Kris
    March 12, 2021 at 11:17 am

    Through the years we have been blessed with your diligence in making sure that our very special children/adults have a voice. My daughter and I are very thankful.

    Like

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