Good Morning. My name is Kevin Rath, and I am the Executive Director of Manos, an employee-owned agency serving 1,200 people with disabilities in the East Bay. I also represent the California Respite Association at the Lanterman Coalition.
Our situation at Manos Home Care provides a clear example of the problems people with disabilities face. It’s important to remember that we can’t separate service agency problems from people with disabilities. If we can’t deliver services, then people with disabilities don’t get the services they need. It’s that simple.
On March 2nd, the Oakland minimum wage went from $9.00 to $12.25 plus nine days of paid vacation. Since we provide nine thousand hours of service to 350 clients every month in Oakland, the new minimum wage is costing us over $30,000 a month—an unsustainable situation.
While negotiations progress with the State, we have still not received a cent to pay for these new minimum wage costs. [Editor's note: as of June 6, 2015, Manos has still not received a cent.]
How did we, as a community, get into such a situation?
We are here because the State has no clear method to increase service provider rates. Without a clear way to increase rates, there is no money to pay for even the most basic cost increases.
Many stakeholders are working with the State to create clear funding methods. Unfortunately, that is not going to help us this year.
So take Manos’ story and times it by the thousands of agencies serving people with disabilities in California and you get an idea of the situation people with disabilities are trapped in.
We need immediate relief.
Which brings us to the proposal from the Lanterman Coalition. The Lanterman Coalition is the largest group of associations that our community has ever formed: parent groups, service agencies, self-advocacy groups, unions, and the regional centers which coordinate care---all associations who represent people with disabilities and the programs and workers who serve them.
We have united to speak with one voice and one request: that the State of California increase funding for all services by 10%.
10% this year.
10% with no excuses.
10% across the board because we are all hurting really, really bad.
10% because we need it; we need it. Not for a vacation to Hawaii, not for a new car, not for new office furniture; we need 10% in order to survive.
So, Governor Brown, so State Senators, and so State Assemblymembers: we respectfully demand a 10% increase for the most vulnerable people in our society, so that they too can live the California promise of a meaningful life as equal citizens of this great State.