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SACRAMENTO – Assemblywoman Susan A. Bonilla (D-Concord) introduced Assembly Bill 18 of the Second Extraordinary Session, yesterday afternoon to help restore the community-based system for developmental disability services (DDS) in California.  ABx2-18, establishes the Cocktails for Healthy Outcomes Act, which adds a five cent charge per cocktail at any restaurant or bar beginning January 1, 2016.  This bill will help ensure California's compliance with the Lanterman Act, a California law passed in 1969, which provides people with developmental disabilities and their families the right to receive necessary services in their community.    

"Currently, 280,000 Californian's are diagnosed with a developmental disability that requires the state of California to fund regional centers, which provide respite care, transportation, day treatment, and independent and supported living programs," said Assemblywoman Bonilla. "In the next three years alone, 24,000 children will leave public school and need services.  The problem is, regional center workers are already extremely overburdened with caseload ratios of one worker to every seventy-five individuals seeking services." 

Long term funding reductions to the DDS system have left both regional centers and service providers struggling to serve more people with fewer resources.  In order to meet caseworker ratios required under current statute, the state would need about 650 additional regional center workers. ABx2-18 will simply raise the price of a cocktail by a mere five cents per drink, which is projected to generate over $200 million annually for providers to deliver essential services to some of our state's most vulnerable populations.      

"During the Great Recession, the DDS community experienced over $1 billion in reductions, while demand is growing with over 10,000 additional individuals needing services each year," continued Bonilla.  "This very small charge – a nickel - will have a significant impact, easing hardships facing our developmentally disabled loved ones across California."

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