Working on Behalf of Americans with Disabilities
"If we want to keep our economy growing with continued low inflation and low unemployment, we must draw on the untapped potential of our people.... Americans with disabilities who want to work shouldn't have to wait one more day."
President Bill Clinton
October 16, 1999
HISTORIC ECONOMIC GROWTH:
Moving From Record Deficits to Record Surplus. In 1992, the deficit was $290 billion, a record dollar high. In 2000, we have a projected budget surplus of $167 billion -- the largest dollar surplus on record (even after adjusting for inflation) and the largest as a share of our economy since 1951. This is the first time we have had three surpluses in a row in more than a half century.
Saving Social Security. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have coupled fiscal discipline with a commitment to preserve and protect Social Security. President Clinton fought for and signed bipartisan legislation to eliminate the confusing and out-dated retirement earnings test in order to encourage work and earnings for older Americans. Under the Clinton-Gore Administration, the life of the Social Security trust fund has been extended to 2034. President Clinton has proposed extending the program's solvency to at least 2054 by paying down the national debt and dedicating the interest savings to Social Security. The President has also pushed for measures to strengthen Social Securitys benefits to reduce poverty among elderly women.
Nearly 22 Million New Jobs. 21.6 million new jobs have been created since 1993, the most jobs ever created under a single Administration -- and more new jobs than Presidents Reagan and Bush created during their three terms. 91 percent (19.7 million) of the new jobs have been created in the private sector, the highest percentage in 50 years.
The Unemployment Rate Was 3.9 Percent in April the Lowest in More Than Three Decades. The unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent in April. The last time the unemployment rate was this low was in January 1970 -- more than thirty years ago. The unemployment rate has remained below 5 percent for 34 months in a row.
Lowest Inflation Since 1965. Inflation remains virtually non-existent, with the underlying core rate of inflation at 1.9 percent in 1999 -- the lowest rate since 1965. In the last four years the GDP price index has risen under two percent each year -- the lowest rate of increase since the early 1960s.
Fastest and Longest Real Wage Growth in Over Three Decades. In the last 12 months, average hourly earnings have increased 3.8 percent -- faster than the rate of inflation. The United States has had five consecutive years of real wage growth -- the longest consecutive increase since the 1960s. Since 1993, real wages are up 6.8 percent, after declining 4.3 percent during the Reagan and Bush years.
Highest Homeownership Rate in History. In 1999, the homeownership rate was 66.8 percent -- the highest ever recorded.
Lowest Poverty Rate in Two Decades. The poverty rate has fallen from 15.1 percent in 1993 to 12.7 percent in 1998. That's the lowest poverty rate since 1979 and the largest five-year drop in poverty in nearly 30 years (1965-1970).
EXPANDING ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY:
I. 2000 Legislative Priorities and FY2001 Budget Initiatives
Disability Office in the Department of Labor. President Clinton and Vice President Gore support establishing an Office of Disability Policy, Evaluation and Technical Assistance (ODPET) within the Department of Labor (DOL), and improving access for adults with disabilities to employment services offered through the one-stop system. The Presidents FY 2001 budget includes $20.56 million for ODPET, which was recommended by the Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities. Under the leadership of an Assistant Secretary, ODPETs mission would be to dramatically increase the employment rate of people with disabilities by implementing a sustained, coordinated, and aggressive strategy to eliminate barriers and create meaningful employment opportunities for people with disabilities. This office would initially subsume the Presidents Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities (PCEPD) in an effort to reduce duplication and enhance coordination of Federal employment programs for people with disabilities. The office would work within DOL to ensure that all programs address the need to increase participation of people with disabilities in DOL training programs, with a targeted emphasis on those serving youth during FY 2001.
National Disability Business Development Board. Creation of ODPET would also establish the National Disability Business Development Board, a federally chartered corporation. The Board will be made up of Americas business leaders, organized labor, rehabilitation and service providers, and disability-related organizations currently advising the Presidents Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. The board would: work to improve the access of individuals with disabilities to financial institutions and commercial and business enterprises; provide incentives to, and collaborate with, the public and private sectors to ensure the necessary levels of resources/investments in employment initiatives for individuals with disabilities; and leverage funds for public awareness about disability and employment.
Tax Credit for Work-Related Expenses. In his FY 2001 budget, President Clinton renews his proposal for a $1,000 tax credit for work-related expenses for people with disabilities. This tax credit was proposed last year but not supported by Congress. The credit would help workers with significant disabilities cover the formal and informal costs that are associated with employment, such as specialized transportation and technology. Like the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act, it would help ensure that people with disabilities have the tools they need to return to work by recognizing the extra costs associated with working.
Extending Medicare Access for People with Disabilities Who Work. The President and Vice Presidents FY 2001 budget builds on achievements enacted in the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act to ensure that individuals with disabilities have full opportunity to participate in and contribute to our growing economy. The Administration has proposed removing an arbitrary four-and-a-half-year limit on Medicare coverage for people with disabilities who return to work, giving individuals with disabilities lifetime access to Medicare.
Vocational Rehabilitation State Grants. The Administrations FY 2001 budget includes $2.4 billion, an increase of $60.8 million, or 2.6 percent, to assist State VR agencies to improve the employment outcomes of individuals with disabilities. A wide range of services is provided each year to about 1.2 million individuals with disabilities, and these funds will assist States to address the needs of this population.
II. Record of Accomplishments
Enacted the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act. The Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 (TWWIIA) is an historic bill produced through the bipartisan efforts of President Clinton and Vice President Gore; Senators Jeffords, Kennedy, Roth, and Moynihan; leaders in the House of Representatives; and the disability community. On December 17, 1999, the President signed this historic bill into law at a ceremony held at the FDR Memorial. This legislation, which the President advocated since 1998, will help provide better health care options for people with disabilities who work.
TWWIIA will improve employment opportunities by: creating new options and incentives for states to offer a Medicaid buy-in for workers with disabilities; extending Medicare coverage for an additional 4 ½ years for people on disability insurance who return to work; creating a $250 million Medicaid buy-in demonstration to help people whose disabilities have not yet progressed so far that they cannot work; and enhancing employment-related services for people with disabilities through the new Ticket to Work Program. TWWIIA also creates a Work Incentive Grant program to provide benefits planning and assistance, facilitate access to information about work incentives, and better integrate services to people with disabilities working or returning to work.
Increasing the Substantial Gainful Activity Amount. In July 1999, the Social Security Administration increased the monthly earnings guidelines from $500 to $700 per month, enabling beneficiaries with disabilities to earn more without affecting their benefits. These guidelines are used to determine whether the work activities of a person with impairments, other than blindness, demonstrate that he or she is able to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA).
Directing Federal Agencies to Implement Plan for Hiring People with Disabilities. Since the beginning of the Clinton-Gore Administration, the American economy has added nearly 21 million new jobs, and unemployment is at the lowest level in three decades. Yet nearly 75 percent of individuals with significant disabilities are unemployed. Last year, Vice President Gore asked the Office of Personnel Management to develop a model plan to bring more adults with disabilities into the Federal workforce. On October 16, 1999, President Clinton released that action plan and directed the Federal government to implement it immediately. The plan, Accessing Opportunity: The Plan for Employment of People with Disabilities in the Federal Government, along with a companion Employment Guide, provides detailed resources for federal employees as they recruit, hire, train and promote people with disabilities. Under this plan, the Federal government -- the nations largest employer with almost 1.8 million workers -- will do more to: recruit people with disabilities for positions at all levels of government; provide opportunities for students with disabilities; ensure career opportunities for people with disabilities; collect and maintain data to monitor success of people with disabilities in the federal workforce; and provide reasonable accommodations for applicants and employees with disabilities.
Sponsoring Disability Mentoring Day: Career Development for the 21st Century. On October 27, 1999, the White House sponsored the first-ever mentoring day for people with disabilities. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and Departments of Labor, Justice, Education, Transportation, and Defense also participated in the mentoring program, which was modeled after other shadow days. It also coincided with a reception hosted by OPM to celebrate the release of the Plan and Employment Guide. This year, the mentoring day will take place on Wednesday, October 25th. The White House encourages people from all across the country to participate in their local communities.
Expanding Hiring Opportunities for People with Psychiatric Disabilities. In January 1999, Tipper Gore announced that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) would explore measures to eliminate the stricter standards that are currently applied to job applicants with psychiatric disabilities. On June 4, 1999, President Clinton signed an executive order ensuring that individuals with psychiatric disabilities are given the same hiring opportunities as persons with significant physical disabilities or mental retardation. On March 17, 2000, OPM issued proposed regulations to create a new Government-wide excepted appointing authority for persons with psychiatric disabilities. This authority will broaden the category of people who may non-competitively acquire competitive civil service status after two years of successful service, providing individuals with psychiatric disabilities the same hiring opportunities already offered to individuals with mental retardation and significant physical disabilities.
Mental Health Parity for Federal Employees. Leading by example, in June 1999 President Clinton called for parity for mental health and substance abuse coverage in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP) by 2001. The FEHBP is the largest employer-sponsored health insurance program in the country -- covering about 9 million people, including Federal employees, retirees, and their families -- and often serves as a model for other employers and the insurance industry. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will work with participating health plans to introduce managed behavioral health care components that incorporate proven techniques such as case management, authorized treatment plans, provider networks using effective screening and referral procedures, pre-certification, and disease management. OPM has eliminated lifetime and annual maximums in the Program, and negotiated with plans to move away from contractual day and visit limitations, high deductibles, co-payments, and coinsurance for mental health coverage.
Signed the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. On August 7, 1998, President Clinton signed the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), which included the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1998, helping to improve worker training and placement options for people with disabilities. WIA establishes better links between the vocational rehabilitation (VR) system and the general workforce development system. Job seekers with disabilities now have improved options for service through the mainstream worker training and placement system, and through the disability-specific VR system. WIA also strengthens the Rehabilitation Act by giving increased options to individuals with disabilities in developing VR plans.
Increasing Employment of Adults with Disabilities. President Clinton signed an Executive Order in March 1998 establishing the Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities. The Task Force is charged with creating a coordinated and aggressive national policy to move individuals with disabilities into gainful employment at a rate approaching that of the general adult population. The Task Force, chaired by the Secretary of Labor, continues its efforts to promote employment opportunities, and many of its recommendations have already been accepted and implemented by the President. The Task Force is analyzing the barriers to employment faced by people with disabilities and will report its findings with policy recommendations to the President on a periodic basis until its final report is presented on July 26, 2002.
Working on Innovative Strategies to Improve Employment of Adults with Disabilities. The Clinton-Gore Administration continues to develop innovative strategies to employ Americans with disabilities. The Social Security Administration (SSA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Labor (DOL), and the Department of Education (DoED) are all participating in inter-agency demonstration projects to expand job opportunities for persons with disabilities. For instance, DoED has awarded six systems-change grants to establish models of improved cooperation and coordination between State Vocational Rehabilitation programs, public employment/employment training programs, and other related programs. The grants will help reduce barriers to employment and increase the capacity of States overall employment system to serve individuals with disabilities. The focus of these systems change projects is increasing the employment rate of individuals with disabilities who are currently receiving support through public programs.
In addition, SSA is working under cooperative agreements with 12 states to develop innovative projects to assist adults with disabilities to reenter the workforce. This activity, the State Partnership Initiative, is designed to help states develop innovative and integrated statewide programs of services and supports for their residents with disabilities that will increase job opportunities and decrease dependence on benefits, including Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income. Moreover, the Presidents Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities (PCEPD) has worked to coordinate a commitment by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Society of Human Resource Managers, and dozens of other private sector companies to support several initiatives advancing the employment of people with disabilities among employers. Initiatives include the formation of local and state employer-led groups advocating for the employment of people with disabilities, the launching of a nationwide campaign to advance the employment of persons with cognitive disabilities, and supporting PCEPDs career exploration and employment programs for youth with disabilities.
Creating New Tools to Help Families Move from Welfare to Work. Since enactment of the 1996 welfare reform law, millions of families have moved from welfare to work. Recognizing the special needs of some people with disabilities and other populations in moving from welfare to work, the 1997 Balanced Budget Act included $3 billion to move long-term welfare recipients and low-income non-custodial fathers into jobs. To fully implement this initiative, the Presidents FY 2001 budget allows grantees an additional two years to spend Welfare-to-Work funds. It also proposes $255 million for Fathers Work/Families Win grants to promote responsible fatherhood and support working families. The Welfare-to-Work Tax Credit provides tax incentives to encourage businesses to hire long-term welfare recipients. President Clinton has secured 110,000 new housing vouchers in the last two years to help welfare recipients and hard-pressed working families move closer to job opportunities, and this year he is proposing $690 million for 120,000 new housing vouchers.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING:
I. 2000 Legislative Priorities and FY2001 Budget Initiatives
State Grant Program. The Administrations FY 2001 budget includes $5.28 billion, a $290 million or 5.8 percent increase, for Special Education Grants to States. With passage of this increase, funding for the State Grant Program will have risen 127 percent since 1994. In FY 2001, the Grants to States program would provide an average of $827 per child, an increase of 4 percent over the FY 2000 level. If approved, States will receive 13 percent of their average per pupil expenditures, or 11 percent of the excess costs, from the federal government for educating children with disabilities.
State Improvement Grants. The Administrations FY 2001 budget includes $45.2 million for the State Improvement Grants, a $10 million increase (or 28.4 percent) over FY 2000. This will provide funding for 28 existing awards to States as well as new awards to an estimated 15 States and territories. The State Improvement program would expand efforts to reform and improve State systems for providing educational, early intervention, and transitional services to improve results for children with disabilities.
Parent Training. The Administrations FY 2001 budget for the Parent Training and Information Centers program is $26 million, a $7.5 million increase, or 40.3 percent, above last years level. The increase would be used to expand the size of the awards to existing State Parent Training and Information Centers, establish four new centers for a total of 103 across the country, and provide additional technical assistance to centers. Three of the new centers would be community centers operated by local parent organizations and focus on meeting the needs of underserved parents and families of children with disabilities.
Reading and Behavior. The Presidents FY 2001 budget includes a request for a $10 million Primary Education Intervention initiative. This initiative will support projects that demonstrate effective interventions coupled with early identification to improve results for children with disabilities. The initiative would target children with significant problems in learning to read, and those exhibiting behaviors that have been found to lead to significant discipline problems or emotional disturbance as they get older. Research shows that early intervention is particularly effective for improving educational results for children, and these funds will allow more students to benefit from timely identification and service delivery.
State Technical Assistance Awards. Helping States comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is critically important, and the Presidents FY 2001 budget includes an $8 million request for State Technical Assistance Awards that will help address this need. These technical assistance awards will be instrumental in improving State monitoring and complaint resolution systems, and to correct deficiencies found through State and Federal monitoring of the implementation of IDEA.
II. Record of Accomplishments
Supporting Quality Education for Children with Disabilities. In 1997, the President enacted a stronger Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), reaffirming our national commitment to provide a world class education for all our children by ensuring that our nations schools are safe and conducive to learning, while scrupulously protecting the rights of students with disabilities. Funding for the basic IDEA grant program has increased by 100 percent under the Clinton-Gore Administration.
Fighting Unwise Amendments to IDEA. In the 105th Congress, the Majority in the House of Representatives attempted to amend the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to make it easier to expel children with disabilities who were judged by school officials to be potentially violent in school. These broad, subjective judgements could have resulted in inappropriate expulsion of large numbers of students with disabilities. The Clinton-Gore Administration, working with parents, successfully opposed these amendments.
Enforcing IDEA. The Clinton Administration has defended the rights of children with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in numerous Federal Court cases: Cedar Rapids Community School District v. Garrett F.; Marie O. v. Edgar; Sacramento City Unified School District v. Holland; Hartmann v. Loudon County Board of Education.
IMPROVING ACCESS AND QUALITY OF HEALTH CARE:
I. 2000 Legislative Priorities and FY2001 Budget Initiatives
Addressing the Nations Multi-Faceted Needs for Long Term Services and Supports. The Presidents FY 2001 budget includes a $28 billion, 10-year investment to tackle the complex problem of long-term care, which affects millions of elderly persons, people with disabilities, children with special needs, and/or the families who care for them. Its centerpiece is a $3,000 tax credit for people with long-term care needs or their caregivers -- triple the amount proposed last year. It also seeks to address the way in which Medicaid policy and practice has inadvertently discriminated against people with long-term care needs who want to live in the community by making it much easier to provide coverage in nursing homes than in the community. This proposal would enable states to provide services to nursing-home qualified beneficiaries at 300 percent of the Supplemental Security Income limit (about $15,000), without requiring a complicated and frequently time-consuming Federal waiver. This proposal contributes toward the goal of giving people who need long-term services and supports the choice of remaining in their homes and communities. It costs $140 million over 5 years, $370 million over 10 years.
Expanding Coverage to Uninsured Americans. In his FY 2001 budget, President Clinton has proposed a 10-year, $110 billion initiative that would dramatically improve the affordability of and access to health insurance. The proposal would expand coverage to at least 5 million uninsured Americans and expand access to millions more. If enacted, these policies would be the largest expansion of coverage since Medicare was created in 1965.
Advocating a Strong Patients Bill of Rights. The President and Vice President have called for passage of the bipartisan Patients Bill of Rights Act, to ensure that all Americans have essential protections, including: guaranteed access to needed health care specialists; access to emergency room services when and where needs arise; continuity of care protections to assure coverage if a patients health care provider is dropped; access to a timely internal and independent external appeals process with a medical necessity standard; assurance that doctors and patients can openly discuss treatment options; and an enforcement mechanism that ensures recourse for patients who have been harmed as a result of health plan actions.
II. Record of Accomplishments
Extending Enforceable Patient Protections for Millions of Americans. Leading by example, the President directed all federal agencies to ensure that their employees and beneficiaries have the benefits and rights guaranteed under the proposed Patients Bill of Rights. Eighty-five million Americans covered by federal health plans have the security of knowing they will have fair access to health care thanks to the Presidents work.
Providing Access to Health Care Services for Uninsured Workers. In 1999, the President proposed and won $25 million in funding for a program to coordinate systems of care, increase the number of services delivered, and establish an accountability system to assure adequate patient care for uninsured and low-income individuals. This year, the President has proposed funding this initiative at $125 million, representing a substantial down payment on the Presidents plan to invest $1 billion over 5 years.
Supporting Families. President Clinton fought for and enacted the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a child or adult with a disability, seriously ill family members, newborn or adoptive children, or their own serious health problems -- without fear of losing their jobs. Since its enactment, FMLA has benefited millions of Americans, and the President has expanded leave options for Federal employees. President Clinton has called for extending this benefit to 12 million more working families and has proposed expanding FMLA to allow workers to take up to 24 unpaid hours off each year for school and early childhood education activities, routine family medical care, and caring for an elderly relative.
Increasing Access to Health Care and Supporting Employment for Americans with Disabilities. The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 created an optional program whereby States could allow people with disabilities who earn up to 250 percent of poverty to purchase Medicaid coverage. Oregon is the first state to take advantage of this policy, and they have created a program that will let individuals go to work and get or keep Medicaid. Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala has asked every governor to seriously consider this program.
Passing Meaningful Health Insurance Reform. President Clinton signed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which limits exclusions for pre-existing conditions, makes coverage portable, and helps individuals who lose jobs maintain coverage.
Protecting the Medicaid Guarantee for People with Disabilities. The Clinton-Gore Administration refuses to go backward on health care coverage for Americans with disabilities, rejecting proposals to end the Medicaid guarantee to meaningful health benefits for people with disabilities. The President vetoed the Republicans proposal in the 104th Congress to block grant the Medicaid program, preserving Medicaid coverage for six million persons with disabilities. Medicaid is often the only form of health care available to people with disabilities and allows many children and adults to receive services at home rather than in institutions. Thanks to President Clinton, the 1997 Balanced Budget Act preserved the Federal guarantee of Medicaid coverage for populations who depend on it.
I. 2000 Legislative Priorities and FY2001 Budget Initiatives
Assistive Technology Initiatives. The Administrations FY 2001 budget includes $100 million (a $13.5 million increase) for disability and technology research at the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR). NIDRR will launch a comprehensive technology initiative which includes: $5 million for an Educational Technology Initiative to provide technical assistance and training to elementary and secondary schools; $3.4million for a multi-pronged Employment initiative to carry out research, training, and technical assistance to enhance the ability of individuals with disabilities to access and use information and communication technology; and $5.1million for a Community Independence initiative on how information and assistive technology can be used to enhance community integration and participation by individuals with disabilities. The Administrations request also includes $15 million to support grants that establish or maintain alternative loan financing programs. Most people with disabilities do not have the private financial resources to purchase the assistive technology they need. If approved, this increase would significantly enhance opportunities for individuals with disabilities to take advantage of assistive technology.
Centers for Independent Living. The Administrations FY 2001 includes $58 million for Centers for Independent Living (CILs) -- a 20.8 percent increase over last years funding level. This increase would make it possible to accomplish an increase in the stability of existing CILs and open new CILs in unserved and underserved areas. The request could provide sufficient funding to establish a $200,000 federal funding floor. In addition, a $10 million increase for CILs could expand the network of centers by funding up to 56 new centers in 23 States.
II. Record of Accomplishments
Ensuring that the Telecommunications Revolution Benefits All. In July 1999, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules on Section 225 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which requires that telecommunications equipment and services be accessible to individuals with disabilities, if readily achievable. This provision is known as the ADA for the Information Age. These regulations, which have been supported by the telecommunications industry, will ensure people with disabilities have access to a broad range of products and services such as telephones, cell phones, pagers, call waiting, and operator services where they previously experienced barriers. Telecommunications carriers may not install network features, functions, or capabilities that do not comply with the regulations. The regulations also ensure that information, documentation, and customer service is conducted in accessible ways.
Signed the Assistive Technology Act. Technology is a crucial component in enabling people with disabilities to obtain and keep meaningful employment. With the support of the Clinton-Gore Administration, Congress passed the Assistive Technology Act of 1998, which reauthorizes the Tech Act that created State Assistive Technology Centers to provide assistive devices to low-income individuals with disabilities.
Ensuring the Federal Government Provides Accessible Technology and Information. The Clinton-Gore Administration recommended, and Congress enacted, changes to the Rehabilitation Act strengthening the obligations of federal agencies to provide accessible information technology to their employees and customers. This enabled the federal government to use its considerable purchasing power to influence private industry toward developing universally designed technology that is accessible to almost everyone. On April 18, 2000, Attorney General Janet Reno announced the release of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) first report under section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, Information Technology and People with Disabilities: The Current State of Federal Accessibility. Under DOJs direction, federal agencies examined the procurement policies and procedures, along with common types of information technology. DOJ found that while some information technology used by federal agencies is accessible, simple steps can increase the extent to which federal information technology is usable by people with disabilities.
Increased Resources for Accessible Transportation. In 1998, President Clinton signed the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), which provides significantly increased resources to make our Nations surface transportation systems accessible. TEA-21 included increased funding for the Elderly Individuals and Individuals with Disabilities grant program.
Increasing Public Transportation Accessibility. The Department of Transportation and the Access Board have issued final regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) provisions for over-the-road bus (OTRB) accessibility that provides a definition of what constitutes discriminatory action. The regulation requires large, fixed-route operators to achieve 50 percent of full fleet accessibility by October 2006 and 100 percent by October 2012. The Department has strengthened the regulations by including provisions making OTRB operators individually and collectively accountable for providing accessible service.
Access to Jobs Initiative. The Presidents Access to Jobs initiative helps communities design innovative transportation solutions, such as van services, to help former welfare recipients and other low-income workers get to work. Funding for this initiative has increased to $75 million in FY 2000 and will be $100 million in FY 2001 as a result of guaranteed funding in TEA-21. This innovative program emphasizes providing people with disabilities the transportation access required to achieve education, work, and family goals.
Increasing Housing Options. The Clinton-Gore Administration took a number of significant actions in 1998 that advanced housing policy for people with disabilities. First, HUD issued a statement supporting the view that institutional living does not constitute real housing for people with disabilities. On April 28, 1998, Fannie Mae announced the publication of A Home of Your Own Guide, the first manual specifically created to provide step-by-step home buying guidance for people with disabilities. In February, HUD Secretary Cuomo issued a directive encouraging communities to use community development block grant funds for home modifications for people with disabilities. Also, in HUDs recent Notices of Funding Availability, the agency included bonus points for developers when they seek to build structures that include visitability by people with disabilities.
Increasing Section 8 Funding in HUD Appropriations. President Clinton supported the inclusion of $40 million in Section 8 funding for people with disabilities, in part to offset the displacement likely to occur as a result of elderly-only designation of public housing formerly occupied by people with disabilities.
PROMOTING EQUALITY FOR ALL OF OUR CITIZENS:
I. 2000 Legislative Priorities and FY 2001 Budget Initiatives
Increased Funding for Civil Rights Enforcement. The Clinton-Gore Administrations FY 2001 budget includes a request for an additional $16 million for the Department of Justices (DOJ) Civil Rights Division -- a 19 percent increase over last years budget of $82.2 million. With a proposed increase of $2.4 million for the Civil Rights Division, DOJ hopes to further implement the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by funding new initiatives, including an initiative to remove barriers that prevent people with disabilities from obtaining basic community services, such as riding public transportation or attending a town meeting. Additional funding will also help begin a new initiative to train law enforcement officers on how to appropriately interact with persons with mental disabilities.
Protecting All of Our Citizens. The President and Vice President have repeatedly called for passage of the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which would strengthen and expand the existing federal hate crimes law to cover cases of hate crimes based on disability, gender, or sexual orientation.
II. Record of Accomplishments
Assuring Access to Community Living for the People with Disabilities. On June 22, 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in Olmstead v. L.C. that, under the Americans With Disabilities Act, unjustifiable institutionalization of a person with a disability who, with proper support, can live in the community is discrimination. In accordance with that Court ruling, on January 14, 2000, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued guidance to state Medicaid directors on how to make state programs responsive to the desires of people with disabilities to live in appropriate community-based settings. The Administrations goal is to integrate people with disabilities into the social mainstream with equal opportunities and the opportunity to make choices in their lives. The Clinton-Gore Administrations flexibility in granting state waivers has spurred an increase in home and community-based services. Since he took office, the President has approved over 300 such waivers. As a result, the number of people with developmental disabilities served in home and community waiver programs has increased significantly.
Vigorously Enforcing Disability Rights. President Clinton has led the fight for vigorous enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Fair Housing Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and other critical civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities in housing, schools, workplaces, and public areas across the nation. Under the Clinton-Gore Administration, the number of positions allocated for ADA enforcement at the Department of Justice (DOJ) has increased by 105 percent. The Administrations FY 2001 budget proposal includes funding for another 29 new positions for ADA enforcement -- a 35 percent increase over FY 2000 funding. DOJ has entered into hundreds of settlement agreements involving access to civic life (city halls and municipal services), 911 emergency services, hotels, stores, restaurants, theaters, and other public accommodations. The Departments litigation activity has established important legal precedents including ADA coverage (such as zoning and prisons), architect liability, line of sight over standing spectators, effective communication, and unnecessary inquiries by professional licensing entities. Implementation of the ADAs most integrated setting requirement has been an important element of DOJs Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act investigations and agreements (involving MRDD institutions, psychiatric hospitals, and public nursing homes).
Working to Stop Discrimination Against People With AIDS. President Clinton supports the Supreme Courts decision in Bragdon v. Abbott, which reinforces the protections offered by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) for Americans living with HIV and AIDS. The President directed the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to vigorously prosecute those who discriminate against people with AIDS, leading to actions against health care providers and facilities that violate the ADA.
Working for Fair Housing. In response to the increase in reported cases of serious fair housing violations, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) committed to doubling the number of its civil rights enforcement actions by the year 2000. In addition, the President proposed and won a major expansion of HUDs Fair Housing programs. The FY 1999 budget expanded HUDs Fair Housing programs to $40 million -- a $10 million increase over FY 1998 funding. That 33 percent increase included $7.5 million for a new audit-based enforcement initiative proposed by the Administration.
Adding a New Statue to the FDR Memorial. On May 2, 1997, President Clinton dedicated the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial to honor the thirty-second President of the United States. On July 2, 1998, Vice President Gore announced that the FDR Memorial will soon include an additional outdoor room at the main entrance, which will depict FDR in the small wheelchair he invented. In collaboration with the disability community, the Clinton-Gore Administration has selected a specific design that will show how FDR became one of our greatest presidents while he had a disability and used a wheelchair. And last year, the Clinton-Gore Administration helped secure $3 million to fund the memorial addition, which may be complete as early as this year.
Appointed the Most Diverse Administration in History. President Clinton has appointed a highly talented and the most diverse Administration in history, including the appointment of record numbers of people with disabilities in the White House and throughout the Clinton-Gore Administration. The Federal government now employs more than 100,000 employees with some type of disability. President Clintons Administration appointees include: Judith Heumann, Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitation Services; Paul Miller, Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; and Fredric Schroeder, Commissioner of the Rehabilitation Services Commission. People with disabilities serve in the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Labor, State, and Transportation. President Clinton has also appointed people with disabilities to positions in such independent agencies as the National Council on Disability and the Social Security Administration, as U.S. District Court Judges, and to various Presidential Committees, Commissions, and Task Forces. In the White House, Jonathan Young is the first person with a disability ever appointed to serve as Associate Director for Disability Outreach in the Office of Public Liaison.