Harlan Still & Koch

Nixon proposes $131M in spending for developmental disabilities

People in Missouri who work with developmentally disabled people would be set for a significant raise, if a portion of Gov. Jay Nixon’s 2017 budget proposal passes the Legislature.

The Associated Press reports that as part of his budget, Nixon is proposing $131 million in new spending on research and care for the developmentally disabled. Most of that money would go into the pockets of service providers. Nixon proposes spending $73 million on pay raises for them -- a 3 percent raise across the board, with additional increases for providers at the bottom of the pay scale. The money for these raises would come from a mix of federal and state funds.

Nixon said the raises are necessary because many service providers are earning wages well below the market rate.

Other portions of the $131 million proposal would go to the University of Missouri’s Thompson Center for Autism and the St. Louis area’s Mercy Kids Autism Center, to expand the services those two facilities provide. Nixon would also help launch a new autism center at Truman State University.

Interestingly, rates for service providers for developmentally disabled clients were in line to go up 3 percent for this fiscal year, but ended up increasing just 1 percent. After a court ruling in favor of tobacco companies related to a $50 million settlement, Nixon withheld more than $46 million in spending.

Having service providers and access to medical care is critical for many people with a developmental disorder such as autism. For those who qualify, Supplemental Security Income can help pay for other needs, like food, housing and shelter.

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