Distressing news out of the capitol: lawmakers may be looking to cut $140 million from human services in order to fund a budget “hole.” The question is, what does a $140 million cut to human services look like? Though plan hours are not likely to be cut, vulnerable areas include provider pay rates and Brokerage funding for Personal Agents. Brokerage Personal Agents and direct support providers have worked to implement dozens of system changes over the past two years. With these changes has come a lot of additional workload and responsibilities, which is already cutting into the bottom line: time spent with Brokerage customers. Any reduction in funding is going to cut further into that time.
Now is the perfect time to flex your advocacy muscles. Advocacy is defined as “the act of pleading or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, idea, or policy,” and if you’re a human, chances are you’ve been engaging in advocacy your entire life. Some people are certainly more comfortable speaking their minds than others. The trick to being a good advocate isn’t about becoming a perfect speaker, it’s about finding the right message for you. When you find a cause or idea that is true to your heart and soul, you will find that the words flow much more easily.
How have your Brokerage services helped you to live the life that you choose? Please call, email, or visit your state representatives and senators, and let them know how important your Brokerage services are to you!
For more information, check out the Oregon I/DD Coalition’s special bulletin
on the current need for advocacy. You can find your legislators, and see the list of legislators on the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Services, the joint committee in charge of making legislative budget recommendations. You can also get talking points and more information about each of the Coalition’s four priorities: Employment, restoring the Fairview Housing Trust, raising DSP wages, and funding Brokerage and county case management at 95%. Each of the four priorities were selected because they fund the cornerstones of a full and meaningful life in Oregon’s communities. Even small cuts to the 95% Case Management funding mean losses for Brokerages from last biennium, at a time when workload has greatly increased. Let your legislators know that overworked/underfunded PAs mean that you can’t get the services you want, when you want them. Urge them to fund the Workload Model for Brokerages and counties at 95%!
– Katie Rose, Executive Director of Oregon Support Services Association