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DDSD Budget FY 11

OKLAHOMA DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES
Developmental Disabilities Services Division
P.O. Box 25352
Oklahoma City, OK  73125
(405) 521-3571 

June 4, 2010


Dear Provider:

The DHS FY-11 budget came off life support on Thursday, May 6, when hundreds of our service recipients, their families and support staff made a dramatic visit to the Capitol to advocate for funding.  The huge building was absolutely packed.  Long-time observers of the Capitol scene reported they had never seen anything like it and said it was reminiscent of the early 90’s when swarms of teachers lobbied for House Bill 1017.  As I was walking over to the capitol, I met up with a director of one of our provider agencies who told me, “I am so proud to be an Oklahoman today!”  I thought she might be overstating the case until I saw the event for myself.  It was truly moving.  An Associated Press reporter called and couldn’t stop talking about how deeply our individuals and their stories affected him.  I could hardly get a word in during my own interview! 

The DHS appropriation represents an increase of 4% in appropriated funds over FY-10.  We still have a shortfall in total dollars, but it is a shortfall of about $20 million instead of the $90 million that seemed likely before May 6.  There are many details to be worked through, but it does appear that furloughs and rate reductions will not be necessary at this point to balance the budget for FY-11.  However, the budget agreement reached by the Governor and the Legislative Leadership contains many revenue assumptions for FY-11.  These assumptions will have to play out fully during the fiscal year for us to remain balanced.  In other words, it is possible we could see reductions due to revenues not meeting expectations in FY-11 just as we did in FY-10. 

We still face the Dementors of Fiscal Year 2012 hovering on the horizon.  The one-time funding from the rainy day fund and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) AKA “Stimulus” will have been largely exhausted in FY-11.  We will be dependent on having a dramatically improved economy with restored tax revenues beginning just 14 months from now.  To keep our costs down we will continue to maintain a division-wide freeze on hiring.  We will also offer a Voluntary Buy Out (VOBO) to some staff who expressed an interest in participating.  The key factor in determining how many people receive a buy out offer is whether we can do without the position.   We will continue to look for ways to reduce our ongoing expenses heading into FY-12. 

None of the above discussion takes into consideration the expiration of the enhanced Medicaid match under ARRA.  Everyone still assumes the increased Federal service match, currently scheduled to expire on December 31, 2010, will be continued through June 30, 2011.   If it is not extended for FY-12, we will start that year with a loss of $36 million in federal funds.

All doomsday thoughts aside, we certainly have cause to celebrate being in better shape for FY-11 than anyone thought possible.  We have Judy Goodwin and the Oklahoma Community Providers (OCP), some non-OCP members, their staff, and, especially, a thousand of our service recipients and their families to thank.  Their advocacy on May 6 was picture perfect. 

Sincerely yours,

James M. Nicholson, Director
Developmental Disabilities Services Division
Oklahoma Department of Human Services
PO Box 25352
Oklahoma City, OK 73125
405-521-6266 (Voice)
405-522-3037 (Fax)
James.Nicholson@okdhs.org

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