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Advocates for Developmentally Disabled Furious Over Budget

Katie Orr, Capital Public Radio

Advocates for the developmentally disabled stage a sit-in outside the Capitol after being blocked from entering the building on Wednesday, June 17, 2015.

Katie Orr, Capital Public Radio

Advocates for the developmentally disabled are furious after being left out of this year’s California budget deal. They held a tense rally at the Capitol Wednesday.

It wasn’t the largest protest the Capitol’s seen, but it was loud. Dozens of protestors blew horns, rang bells and beat trash can lids as they rallied for caretakers of the developmentally disabled in California. A $100 million dollar provider rate increase proposed by the legislature was left out of the final budget agreement with Governor Jerry Brown. And the protestors were furious. 

Jacquie Dillard-Foss works with the developmentally disabled and led the protest.

"And we’re saying we’re done," she says. "We’re polite, we’re respectful, we show up, we testify and to hear there was a deal made without us," she says.

Advocates say it’s been about 15 years since providers have received a rate increase. Brown has said the issue should be addressed as part of a special legislative session on health care financing. And Democratic Assemblyman Tony Thurmond says that puts the protestors in a unique spot.

"That’s actually a great position for the advocates to place their concerns," he says. "You know, a lot of groups didn’t get what they wanted and that’s it. There’s no special session for them."  

But protestors weren’t satisfied with a special session. They attempted to stage a sit-in in front of Brown’s office but were blocked from entering the Capitol.

Senator Jim Beall has proposed a ten percent provider rate increase. More than 60 lawmakers have signed a letter backing the proposal. Beall says close to 500 group homes have closed since 2011 and more may follow.

"We need to do something quickly in the special session to get some increase because at this point many of these group homes just can’t afford to continue to operate," he says. 

Leaders of the Senate and Assembly say they’re committed to using the special session to pass a rate increase.

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