· Apply fair budget policies that treat the regional centers and providers equal to other state agencies that build COLAs and fund new federal and state mandates in their base budget.
· Stop shifting financial responsibility for federal and state mandates onto regional centers and providers.
· Address these cost issues in the January budget.
The letter was prompted by comments from the SARC (San Andreas Regional Center) Provider Forum in San Jose on Oct 1st and the informational hearing in Los Angeles on Oct 9th. The hearing was held to discuss the impact of budget cuts and work toward the development of a Legislative plan of action to preserve the integrity of the Lanterman Act and ensure people with developmental disabilities receive the services they need to live a full and independent life.
Testimony from the forum and hearing revealed that cost of living increases for regional center employees and providers lag far behind inflation. The result has not only imperiled service providers who are struggling to remain open but has seriously undermined the ability of our regional centers to recruit and retain a qualified staff. While state agencies generally build in cost increases such as health benefits, transportation cost increases and negotiated salary COLAs, regional centers and vendors within the California Department of Developmental Services (DDS) system do not have these accepted adjustments.