This content has been reprinted with permission from the Association of Regional Center Agencies (ARCA).
The House and Senate have passed their tax plan, which will soon be signed by President Trump. What does this mean for our community?
First, the good news. Many of the ideas most likely to hurt people with developmental disabilities and their families were dropped. Those were proposals like ending a tax credit that helped hire people with disabilities, and repealing the medical expense deduction. Fortunately, none of these bad ideas survived.
But there are still major problems. The biggest is called “PAYGO,” short for “pay-as-you-go.” That’s a budget rule saying any bill increasing spending in one area, or cutting taxes, has to be balanced. This is usually done by a combination of tax increases and lower spending. But the tax reform was all tax cuts – so to balance it out, there will be automatic spending cuts. Among the many, many programs currently set to be cut is Medicare. It provides billions of dollars for important social services, including disability services, in California. Any cuts could lead to fights to take money from our community. Right now, we don’t know what will happen.
So what can we do now?
There are three big things to do, not just today, but in the coming months, too.
1) Stay engaged! That means making sure you’re informed – through us and other sources – about what’s happening in D.C. and California. You may have already seen ARCA’s positions on tax reform and federal funding. But try to read at least one news article, action alert, or email every week to keep engaged.
2) Stay connected! Are you talking to other people in the community? Whether it’s your regional center, your friends, local advocates, or activist groups, our strength is in numbers. If you haven’t reached out to other people near you, now is the time to start building those connections.
3) Keep advocating! We hope you have already found your representative, and shared with them how important community services are for people with developmental disabilities. But advocacy isn’t just one call or one day. This is like any relationship. Stay in touch, and stay respectful! Whether it’s at community office hours, holiday parties, or public events, make sure they know your views, and that services matter – today and in the future.
Next year, the federal government – and California – will be talking about a lot of big issues. We’ll need to work together to ensure our community’s voice is part of those conversations. Until then, thank you for your advocacy – and be ready for more!
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