SB 906 Vetoed; Override Unlikely
After the PA Senate voted to delay the closings of White Haven and Polk state centers—located in Luzerne and Venango Counties, respectively—Governor Tom Wolf followed through on his promise to veto the measure. His first veto of 2020, Governor Wolf issued a statement explaining his decision on February 12:
"Community care results in better outcomes for individuals with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities should be offered an everyday life as fully integrated members of our communities… My goal is to serve more individuals in the community, reduce reliance on institutional care, and improve access to home and community-based services. This legislation does not promote this investment and transition to community-based care for individuals with a disability. Instead, this legislation continues the reliance on institutionalization and is a barrier to community living."
SB 906 would have halted the closures of the two centers for five years or until such a time an assigned task force could study all remaining state centers in Pennsylvania and make recommendations for closing them.
An override of the Governor’s veto is not expected since a sufficient number of senators who voted no on SB 906 can sustain it.
Governor Wolf’s veto and support for community care was welcomed by InVision and many in the ID/A community, but confusion and profound disappointment persist because of his failure to increase rates, DSP wages, and funding for community waiver programs in his budget proposal, issues intrinsically tied to the planned closures of the state centers and shifting focus onto community-based care.
InVision leadership wrote to Governor Wolf and his Chief of Staff thanking the Administration for the veto and reminded them of the woeful inadequacies in his budget to address promises to strengthen the community system. Additionally, an offer was extended for the Governor and his staff to meet with InVision leadership to discuss how the Administration can keep its promise.