DRAFT VACSB Budget Priorities for FY21-22
The Virginia General Assembly was called into a special session on August 18th, 2020. Legislators were asked, in part, to amend Chapter 1289 which was signed by the Governor on May 21st, 2020 in order to account for the shifting fiscal landscape due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Chapter 1289 contained provisions to “unallot” the majority of new spending that was included in the version of the budget that was initially sent to the Governor. “Unalloting” the funds meant that the money would stay in each agency’s budget but could not be spent. This included critical funding for VACSB priorities such as:
- increases in the provider reimbursement rate for DD Waiver services,
- discharge assistance planning (DAP) which allows for individuals to be transitioned from state hospitals to the community,
- increases in the reimbursement rate for behavioral health service providers,
- permanent supportive housing and
- the implementation of a behavioral health student loan repayment program.
When the special session convened, the Governor introduced a new budget which converted all of those “unallotted” items to reductions, removing them from agency budgets entirely. With the Governor’s introduced budget as a starting point, the General Assembly negotiated a new budget which was sent back to the Governor on October 29th, 2020 for his review.
The conference budget restored some or all of the funding in the following categories:
- STEP-VA – $30.2M in FY22
- Provider reimbursement rate for DD Waiver services (FY22 includes community integration) – $10.7M in FY21 and $25.7M in FY22
- DAP – $7.5M in FY21 and $10M in FY22
- Reimbursement rate for behavioral health service providers – $2.4M in FY22
- Permanent supportive housing – $3M in FY21 and $17M in FY22
Due to the timing of the publication of this document, the VACSB cannot report on the final status of the special session budget and recognizes that the provisions of this budget are subject to change during the 2021 regular session. The funds allocated in FY22 are especially at risk.
For these reasons, the VACSB plans to advocate in the short term to retain the provisions included in the conference budget as outlined above and will continue to push for additional funding in these categories beginning in December when the Governor introduces his budget for the 2021 regular session.
While the uncertainty caused by the pandemic and resulting special session make it difficult to prepare for the future, the VACSB will stay abreast of changes and continue to engage its members and elected officials regarding our priorities.