Dear editor, 

We've had unprecedented and significant movement toward a legislative increase to the I/DD Medicaid Waiver Rates for the specific purpose of providing wage increases for our direct support professionals.

Senator Aaron Bean, chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, recently placed $41,772,000 in the Senate budget to provide funding for a significant raise for our DSPs. The goal of the line-item is to get the average compensation for DSP's to $11 per hour.

Now, the Senate and House will go into conference. This process allows Senate and House budgets to be combined into one that is presented the governor. The "conference" period is critical because the increase for DSP wages can be removed, decreased, or increased to include Day Programs DSPs.

We're hoping the increase is upheld during the conference process and additional funds are added to include Day DSPs.

The budget then "rests" for a period; the governor examines it and exercises his power of veto, to include the possibility of vetoing the DSP increase. So, this is far from over!

We need you, and all "Friends of Arc," to take action in two very important ways.

STEP 1: Contact our U.S. and state Representatives and beg them to support Bean!

Tell them how much people with developmental disabilities need them; how important a rate increase for Residential Habilitation and Adult Day Training is for people with developmental disabilities; and ask them to be our champions in conference.

STEP 2: Ask them to fund the following request: From funds in Specific Appropriation *****, $20,620,462 from General Revenue and $32,689,937 from the Grants and Donations Trust Fund are provided for rate increases to Residential Habilitation and Adult Day Training Services.

Sen. Marco Rubio, 700 S. Palafox St., Suite 125, Pensacola, FL 32502; 850-433-2603 or toll free 866-630-7106. Sen. Rick Scott, 111 N. Adams St., Suite 208, Tallahassee, FL 32301; 850-942-8415. Rep. Matt Gaetz, 226 S. Palafox Place, 6th Floor, Pensacola, FL 32502; 850-479-1183.

OKALOOSA

Rep. Mel Ponder, 214 House Office Building, 402 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL 32399; 850-717-5004; mel.ponder@myfloridahouse.gov.

SANTA ROSA

Rep. Jayer Williamson, 222 The Capitol, 402 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL 32399; 850-717-5003; jayer.williamson@myfloridahouse.gov.

WALTON

Rep. Brad Drake, 209 House Office Building, 402 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL 32399; 850-717-5005; brad.drake@myfloridahouse.gov.

ESCAMBIA

Rep. Alex Andrade, 1401 The Capitol, 402 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL 32399; 850-717-5002; alex.andrade@myfloridahouse.gov. Sen. George Gainer, 302 Senate Office Building, 404 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL 32399; 850-487-5002 gainer.george@flsenate.gov. Sen. Doug Broxson, 311 Senate Office Building, 404 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee, FL 32399; 850-487-5001; broxson.doug@flsenate.gov.

Thank you.

John Roper, chief executive officer

The Arc of the Emerald Coast 

What's your view? Write a letter to the editor.