NFBMA 2018-1 Resolution

Resolution 2018-1

WHEREAS, the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind faces a $1.55 million annual deficit due to historic and systemic factors including the new Federal requirement that 15% of Vocational Rehabilitation funds be reserved for narrowly defined student transition services, a 75% reduction in Federal reallotment funding in 2017, and a recent finding during a Federal audit that will require $ 1.55 million for the agency to achieve full compliance, a finding that was ignored in 2009, and;

WHEREAS, the MCB Commissioner and staff have worked diligently to achieve $3.3 million in cost savings over the last 30 months, including the elimination of an innovative and highly successful program, Project Search, an internship-to-work program which had a 70 percent employment outcome rate, and;

WHEREAS, the successful rehabilitation of a blind person to a life of productive independence and full community participation must include specialized training in orientation and mobility, vision rehabilitation, and assistive technology, and;

WHEREAS, a lack of additional funding in FY2019 will result in the implementation of an order of selection, a Federally-required waiting list limiting which consumers receive the specialized Vocational Rehabilitation services essential for entry or reintegration into the work force, and;

WHEREAS, Social Rehabilitation services for adults and seniors who need specialized training including Orientation and Mobility and independent living skills to maintain their independence and community involvement after vision loss which for decades have been paid incorrectly by using vocational rehabilitation funds will need to be further cut despite the fact that seniors are the fastest growing population of legally blind citizens of the Commonwealth, and;

WHEREAS, the Community Services Account that funds social rehabilitation services, account 4110-1000, was cut by $31,000 by the Governor in the FY2018 budget despite a joint resolution passed by both the National Federation of the Blind of Massachusetts and the Bay State Council of the Blind recommending that this account be restored to fiscal year 2009 levels, and;

WHEREAS, The Governor’s proposed budget for the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind for fiscal year 2019 has recommended essentially level funding, and;

WHEREAS, the Governor when he was Secretary of Health and Human Services proposed MCB be consolidated with other disability related agencies, and;

WHEREAS, Commissioner Paul Saner has been attempting to work with the Baker administration and the legislature to procure additional funding that would restore MCB to fiscal stability;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Federation of the Blind of Massachusetts in convention assembled on this 25th day of February, 2018 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Boston, Massachusetts and the Bay State Council of the Blind in convention assembled on this tenth day of March, 2018 at the Marriott Hotel in Burlington, Massachusetts strongly urge the Baker administration and the legislature to appropriate the $1.55 million in funding for the Community Services account that will allow the 26,000 blind residents of all ages to continue to receive the services they have obtained since the agency’s inception in 1906 as the first independent commission for the blind in the country, and;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the National Federation of the Blind of Massachusetts and the Bay State Council of the Blind strongly oppose any efforts made now or in the future by the Baker administration and the legislature to consolidate MCB with any other agencies.