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Independent Living News & Policy from the National Council on Independent Living

Information Alert: Independent Living Funding Update

ILA protest sign 2011Congress just voted on a FY 2013 spending package that will leave the arbitrary across-the-board cuts in place that will affect Part B and C funding. Part B funds have already been cut by 5% as of March 1st, and this current package will leave those cuts in place. Part C funds were also cut by 5%, although Centers will not feel the pain until later this year in October due to forward funding.

A letter from RSA to Centers offered clarification, “The FY 2013 sequester total is calculated by reducing the full appropriation by 5 percent. The reduced amount is then run through the program allotment formula to determine the amount available to each State and then to each Center in that State. As a result of the factors that are applied in the allotment formula, the percent reduction in funds by State may be more or less than 5 percent.”

IL will continue to see a 5% cut in the Department of Education budget, despite the program’s ability to save the federal government money.

These cuts demonstrate the thoughtless approach to legislating that we have seen over the past few Congresses regarding Independent Living, and it is about time that our elected officials do their jobs and make good on their obligation to secure the civil liberties of all citizens. Refusing to invest in Independent Living directly affects the rights of Americans with disabilities by reducing access to home- & community-based services and other resources that enable people to live independently.

This budget debate highlights an even greater discussion in the disability community, because some programs were spared from cuts because they were deemed too vital to gut. A program that enables the independence of Americans with disabilities should also be too vital to cut; the Independent Living Program is one of this nation’s greatest investments.

It is clear that Independent Living needs a larger voice in this national conversation, and it will only come with the creation of an Independent Living Administration (ILA). Now it is more important than ever to be an active NCIL member. We need to gear up our CILs and SILCs for the unique opportunity we now have to reauthorize the Rehabilitation Act, with included language to establish the ILA. In the coming weeks we will be asking our members to put pressure on the House Committee on Education & the Workforce to work with the Senate to pass this legislation, which also contains many additional changes that NCIL included to greatly help how CILs and SILCs operate.

However, there is some good news to report regarding the WIPA and PABSS programs. The final Continuing Resolution did specifically allocate $27 million for WIPA and $7 million for PABSS in fiscal year 2013. While SSA is indicating that they want consumers to have access to the programs as soon as possible, be aware that the RFP and release of funding could still be 12-18 months away.

NCIL continues to work closely with both appropriations committees in the House and Senate, and will keep our members updated about any further news regarding IL funding.

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