So what happened in the Capitol last week in the fight to save our developmental services?
The bad news is that the Legislature didn’t take any action before going home Friday night. The final push stalled by the end of the day, leading to the Democrats and Republicans angrily blaming each other for why they still couldn’t do anything for our community.
The good news is that they didn’t adjourn the special legislative session Friday as they had planned to — so the Legislature will officially be in session even though they aren’t here, and the legislators can be called back to Sacramento to vote if there’s a deal. And they created a Senate-Assembly conference committee with members of both parties to work on it this fall.
The other good news is that our community has built more political power — and put it into action in the Capitol on this — than I’ve seen any time in my almost seven years as a professional advocate for you.
Thanks to our community’s united effort for the last year, climaxing with a flood of calls to key legislators last week, every senator and assemblymember now is painfully aware of the problem and that we need to fix it before the system completely collapses. And they all feel pressure from the voters they represent to get it done this year. When they start complaining about how many calls they got, you know we have their attention.
Senator Ed Hernandez, who led the charge for us at the end, will be on the Senate-Assembly committee. So will Assemblymember Rob Bonta, who we know gets it and who put his vote where is mouth is in the budget process in June. We don’t know who else will be on the committee.
So the outcome is that our service system will continue to disintegrate while the fight go on.
One potentially very positive development last week was that Senator Hernandez said that his goal is for the Legislature to develop a bill to solve the problem and pass it to the governor for his signature or veto – the first time a legislative leader has publicly acknowledged that they should pass a bill whether Jerry Brown likes it or not. And since it will likely be a comprehensive bill that also fixes the MediCal funding program, which Brown wants a lot, it’s very unlikely he would veto it over our relatively small piece.
By the end of the night Friday, I was as angry as everybody else around here. Even after some rest this weekend, I still get mad when I think much about it. But the fact is that we’re getting closer to a real solution, and the key is to keep up the pressure – not give in to cynicism and fatigue, no matter how tempting.
So you’ll be hearing more from us in the coming weeks.
And thank you for your advocacy.
Public Policy Director
The Arc & United Cerebral Palsy California Collaboration
1225 Eighth Street, Suite 350, Sacramento, CA 95814