A Champion for Inclusion

California’s Newly Elected Governor Champions Needs of the Developmental Disabilities Community

By Bryan Neider, CEO, Gatepath

With the passage of the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Act of 1977, California became the birthplace of the American’s with Disabilities Act movement. We have historically led the nation in the fight for the equal rights and inclusion of those with disabilities.  We need our elected officials to uphold our shared promise to the 350,000 Californians with intellectual and developmental disabilities, safeguarding their right to services and ensuring they can live full and independent lives. The Lanterman Act and the American’s with Disabilities Act made a commitment to bring inclusion and equal access to our schools, workplaces, and communities for all Californians and all Americans.

California Governor-elect Gavin Newson will take office in January 2019. With this new administration comes the opportunity to address and correct nearly two decades of neglect of the state’s developmental disabilities system. Governor Newsom has been a lifelong proponent of protecting the civil and human rights of California’s most vulnerable populations, so we look forward to seeing how his new administration steps up to support Californians with developmental disabilities.

This is a pivotal moment in California’s history for our government to do the right thing and restore funding to California’s developmental disabilities system of services. Moreover, we can’t succeed with a significantly underfunded system without addressing the growing cost of living and the increase in the number of individuals needing support services in their communities.

The $1.1 billion in state budget cuts that started in 2009 have profoundly damaged community services for Californians with developmental disabilities. Thousands of California’s service providers with missions like Gatepath’s have been forced to close their doors or are near the point of collapse.

California’s economy has improved with a $9 billion budget surplus, and approximately $400 million is expected to enter the revenue stream from the closure of two developmental centers in California. There is an opportunity to capture those dollars and provide critically needed relief to overburdened service providers.

We are already seeing a groundswell of support in the Legislature with the development of a Select Committee on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities earlier this year.  We applaud the committee Chair Assembly Member Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay) and the members of the bipartisan committee for recently hosting public hearings throughout the state to better understand the challenges facing Californians with disabilities and those who provide services for this vulnerable segment of our population.

Governor-elect Newsom has spoken strongly about the need for our state to serve all residents. “I am standing up for ideals and striking out against injustice. It’s why I am here as an elected official, but also what drives me personally,” Newsom said during a Facebook Live interview in March. “California must step up and defend its residents – advancing policies grounded in both compassion and innovation.”

We congratulate Newsom on his election victory and look forward to seeing the new Governor support Gatepath and other organizations in our mission to provide services for those with developmental disabilities across our state.

Join us in a call to action to reinvest in this population that is in dire need of support. As a starting point, we seek a system-wide 10% increase of $550 million to begin restoring funding for developmental disability services and a modified median rate structure that accounts for high cost-of-living areas.

California was once an undisputed leader in providing support for those with developmental disabilities. It’s time once again for our elected officials to lead the nation in the fight for the equal rights and inclusion for all.

Say YES to restoring funding to the disabilities system by signing the online Pledge for Inclusion at PledgforInclusion.org today!

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