Indpendent Living Centers Technical Adjustment Act

Floor Speech

By:  Judy Chu
Date: June 30, 2010
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. CHU. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 5610, the Independent Living Centers Technical Adjustment Act. This bill addresses an issue brought to our attention by a number of States that are at risk of having to reduce services for adults with disabilities. Authorized under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Independent Living Center program serves adults with disabilities by providing an array of independent living services, including the information and referral services, independent living skills training, peer counseling, and individual and systems advocacy training. This program is administered by the Rehabilitation Services Administration, which allocates Federal funds to the centers based on a formula in an established State plan. Under current law, Centers within a State must first receive funds at the level they received in the previous year, and absent sufficient funding, they must receive the same proportional amount of the total they received the previous year.

The Independent Living Centers were provided additional funds through the stimulus package passed by Congress in 2009. States were given maximum flexibility for determining the allocation of these funds among the centers in their States. Several States opted to distribute these temporary funds using a formula different from their base formula. As a result, some Centers received a proportionally larger or smaller allocation than they did in previous years.

This one-time change in the allocation of funds made sense because of the challenges State economies were facing. At the same time, current law did not envision this one-time increase in funding. And, in fact, the Rehabilitation Services Administration is required to allocate 2010 funds based on a Center's total proportional allocation for 2009 and the additional funding a Center received under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or ARRA. This requirement may result in some Centers losing up to 35 percent of funds as the total proportion a Center received may be less than they received in the prior year.

The Independent Living Centers Technical Adjustment Act will allow States to request that ARRA funds not be included in determining their center's previous year allocations. That way, the temporary funds provided under ARRA do not permanently change the Center's base allocations. This is a complex but necessary fix to protect services for so many people with disabilities who benefit from the work of the Independent Living Centers.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Chairman Miller for introducing this important legislation, and I urge support of this technical change to ensure Independent Living Centers can continue the important work for people with disabilities in our communities.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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