Budget Should Reflect Needs of Texans with Disabilities

Brakeyshia Samms, State Policy Fellow

On September 30th, the public has a chance to testify at a budget hearing for the Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS). The hearing will go over the agency’s Legislative Appropriations Request (LAR) for the 2-year budget starting on September 1, 2015.

DARS is the key state agency that works with businesses, counselors, schools, communities, and families to provide services that improve the quality of life for Texans with disabilities and families who have children with developmental delays. For example, Vocation Rehabilitation-General Services – the program that receives the most general revenue – helps Texans with disabilities other than blindness or visual impairment to transition from school to work, maintain their current job, or preserve their independent living situation.

The DARS budget request totals $226 million from the General Revenue Fund, with more than one-third going toward vocational rehabilitation programs, which reach 74,800 Texans with disabilities. Unfortunately, a major theme throughout the request is an increase in services needed, but not an increase in baseline funding. This is due to the state leaders’ budget instructions, which limit most baseline funding proposals to 2014-15 levels. DARS also requests 7 exceptional items—the agency’s funding priorities that can’t be included in the baseline budget— with funding to maintain the Early Childhood Intervention services caseload through 2017 at its 2015 level being the most important. For more information on the services provided by DARS, please click here.

We all can agree that Texans with disabilities should receive services that improve their quality of life. Many of those types of services are provided through DARS, making state investments critical to ensuring that Texans with disabilities can take full advantage of educational and work opportunities. Just last year, DARS provided services to over 538,000 Texans with disabilities.

Click here for CPPP’s in-depth analysis of the DARS budget request.
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