by Mac Taylor, Legislative Analyst March 1, 2012.
Over the three-year period from 2009-10 to 2011-12, the Department of Developmental Services’ (DDS) General Fund spending has remained relatively flat. (This is in contrast to earlier in the decade when spending grew rapidly.) This has been the case in spite of rapidly growing caseloads and other cost pressures. For example, during this time Regional Centers (RCs)—by far the largest DDS program—saw an average annual caseload growth rate of 3.4 percent. In this brief, we discuss the measures adopted by the Legislature over these three years to reduce General Fund costs in both Developmental Centers (DCs) and RCs. In 2009-10, the Legislature reduced the DDS General Fund budget by drawing down more federal funds, reducing RC and DC operations, and by changing the standards as to how RCs authorize services for consumers. The Legislature also imposed provider payment rate reductions on RC providers in order to achieve savings. While the provider payment reduction was implemented initially for one year, it has been renewed by the Legislature for each of the subsequent years. In 2010-11, additional reductions to the DDS General Fund budget were made, including obtaining additional federal funds and using First Five Commission funds in lieu of General Fund. During 2011-12, the DDS General Fund budget was automatically reduced by $100 million due to the operation of a budget trigger mechanism that came into play when the state’s revenues came in under budget projections. Also in 2011-12, the Legislature adopted RC best practices and accountability measures, creating additional savings. During this three-year period, the Legislature adopted mostly ongoing savings, making long-term changes to DDS programs. For more information, here is the 20120301 – Legislative Analyst Office – Developmental Services Budget Update March 1 2012.