FEBRUARY 6, 1998 .............................................................................. NUMBER 78
TOPICS IN THIS ISSUE INCLUDE:
THE BUDGET PROCESS BEGINS
This year Friday Fax is going to approach the 1999 budget process a bit differently than in previous years. We want to begin by telling our readers how we want to keep you informed and how we want to maximize your involvement, while also minimizing the number of times we hit you with URGENT URGENT. The budget process is like a play, each party in the process taking turns until all the cards are played, every bit of pressure is exerted and then, PLEASE, we get a Federal budget. Its a long and arduous process. We, as members of the disability community, need to pull together and expend energy wisely and hit the right points. In the last two years working for the appropriations for funding of IDEA, NPND played a significant role because we partnered with many strong groups and stepped up to the plate at critical times and made a difference. So, here we go for 1998!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What we are proposing is to have regular updates in the Friday Fax coupled with longer information pieces on the NPND website and through NPND Parent Ties (faxed/mailed to NPND members only). Information will be listed under HOT TOPICS - BUDGET. We will urge collective action only at critical points. In the meantime, we want each of you, who has built relationships with your representatives in Washington, to use the ongoing flow of information to keep talking to representatives and their staff members about the importance of funding for programs that serve our children and families.
This week there is good news and bad news. Good news first. In the Department of Education Budget, the Parent Training and Information Centers are recommended for a $2M increase raising the program to $21M. Grants for Infants and Families recommended for a $20M increase to $370M and a State Improvement Grants request which is for a $10M increase to $45.2M.
The bad news. The other programs in Special Education are level funded. This is particularly troubling when you remember the deal that was struck when IDEA was reauthorized. All of the parties who worked on the reauthorization agreed that we would all work to increase the support for IDEA. Much of the backlash against our children and their programs is because of the woeful under funding of these programs. In the Reauthorization, a new trigger mechanism was put in place to help the local school districts. When the funding of the Part B action of the law increases by $1B, the formula for funding provides more help for LEAs. That is why so many advocates of regular education and special education worked together with appropriations to get the increases of 3/4 of a billion dollars for our programs. Our intention for this year is to advocate funding to reach the $18 mark. Congressional leaders have indicated they are willing to work to raise the funding levels for IDEA.
More bad news. When reviewing the Presidents budget as a whole, the disability programs did not fare well. In upcoming Friday Faxes, we will review other sections of funding for our programs. We understand that many of the new initiatives suggested by the President could be beneficial for people with disabilities, but fulfilling the support for mandated programs should have a high priority.
Pages from the Department of Education Budget Summary can be found on the NPND website. Included are descriptions and rationales.
Testimony Before Appropriations Committee
Last Friday, before the House Committee on Appropriations, Polly Spare, President of the Voice of the Retarded, presented her organizations view regarding the activities of state protection and advocacy agencies, developmental disability councils, and university affiliated programs. She requested investigation of portions of the implementation of the DD Act and attacked the work of the P and As in class action suits on behalf of persons with disabilities.
Her complaints also included the following questions,:
Ms. Spare then proceeded to challenge the Secretary of HHS, Donna Shalala, questioning the ability of HHS to monitor their programs.
Friday Fax understands the VORs mission is to safeguard institutions for the retarded, but this testimony is not in the best interest of people with disabilities.
This testimony was given before the Appropriations Committee of which Rep. Istook is a member. Congressman Istook has tried to limit the work of non-profit agencies in the past 2 Congressional sessions. We have worked hard to defeat those amendments.
Last year, Ms. Spare co-led an effort funded by Administration on Developmental Disabilities to bring institutional parents and community parents together to search for common ground. By all accounts, the project was very successful. All parties signed off on a Statement of Shared Principles. This testimony does not seem to reflect a commitment to collaboration for all parents. To see the full text of Ms. Spares testimony visit the NPND website.
LINK TOBACCO MONEY TO CHILD CARE INVESTMENT
Leaders of some 80 organizations released a letter on Tuesday to Congress in support of the provisions of the bipartisan Healthy and Smoke-Free Children Act to link tobacco money to child care investment Please visit the NPND website for further details.
MiCASA FEBRUARY 13TH VALENTINE REMEMBER TO SEND CONGRESS A MESSAGE FOR VALENTINES DAY.
You can help make MiCASA a reality on the day before Valentines Day, Friday, February 13, 1998. Please access the NPND website for further details.