Whatever became of Cuomo’s commitment to New York’s hungry?

Saturday, February 9, 2013
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Whatever became of Cuomo’s commitment to New York’s hungry?

Anti-hunger advocates were pleased that Gov. Cuomo’s written State of the State address included 10 pages devoted to the problem of hunger and the need for action [Feb. 1 Gazette]. Unfortunately, hunger did not make it into the actual speech he delivered.

Anti-hunger advocates were stunned when the governor’s actual budget proposals eliminated direct funding allocations for critical anti-hunger programs such as the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program and WIC (Women, Infants and Children). Instead, they were lumped together in a new “block grant” with other programs in the Health Department. The amount of funding proposed for these programs was $13 million [lower than] prior levels.

Since the Great Recession started in 2007, the number of people fed at emergency food programs has increased by more than 60 percent, while state funding has remained stable and federal funding has been cut. Two-thirds of program [participants] said their government funding and private donations have dropped, while 90 percent saw more guests this year. Even the state agency that works with emeergency food programs had recommended a $10 million increase in funding for emergency food.

A recent statewide survey of such programs by the Hunger Action Network of New York State found that 20 percent of the 3 million or so guests are seniors, a big increase. Unfortunately, the governor is proposing [to] keep the same funding level for the Meals on Wheels program.

More than one-third of the guests at emergency food programs are the working poor. Anti-hunger advocates were glad that the government proposed an increase in the state minimum wage to $8.75 an hour, but were disappointed that he failed to support indexing it to inflation, like many other states do. Most anti-hunger advocates have been asking for a minimum wage of at least $10 an hour, with indexing.

The governor’s budget largely ignored that much of the state is still hurting from the Great Recession. Governments at all levels need to increase their investment in targeted job creation and overall spending to stimulate the economy. The so-called recovery has restored far fewer jobs than any other “post-recession” bump in our history, and middle-class jobs are being replaced with poverty-wage ones.

Mark A. Dunlea

Albany

The writer is HANNYS’ executive director.

If Littauer staffers leave, hospital care will suffer

I have lived in Gloversville all my life — 50 years. Both of my grandparents and parents were patients at Nathan Littauer Hospital when they were alive. I was a patient there when my son was born, and he was a patient there when his appendix was removed.

Generations of people in this community have used Littauer. I’m sure everyone in Gloversville (or their families or friends) has used our hospital. It is a vital part of our community.

We don’t want to go to Albany Medical Center, Ellis Hospital or even St. Mary’s Hospital in Amsterdam. We want to go here, in our city. We want to be taken care of by people we know, in our community. We want things that are familiar to us, that make us feel comfortable.

I am a medical technologist in the laboratory at Littauer. We are having trouble with our contract negotiations. It isn’t just a matter of money and benefits.

What we really need are good people who will take good care of the patients. If Littauer management makes wages and benefits unfavorable or uncompetitive, workers will quit and go to the other hospitals.

Who will replace these workers? People of lesser quality who won’t work as hard or care as much about the patients. The quality of care will go down. Health care workers with good skills and experience will no longer work here. This would be terrible for our community.

Perhaps if you know members of the hospital board, you could discuss the future of our hospital with them. Let’s all try to keep a high level of excellent health care in our local hospital.

Deven McDougall

Gloversville

McLaughlin shouldn’t be let off hook so easily

New York State Republican Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin of Melrose needs a high school social studies lesson.

How can he equate the governor of New York to both Hitler and Mussolini (fascists), and to Moscow (communists), when they actually are on opposite ends of the political/economic spectrum?

’Tis a shame that he perpetuates the myth held by many right-wingers that anything that is bad for America must be communist and/or Nazi-inspired. As an educated person, he should know better.

Yes, I saw that he apologized to the governor. How about apologizing to the people of New York for being such a poor leader, using phrases that make no sense, speaking so rudely and presenting an asinine and poorly-thought-out response to something he did not agree with?

Bruce Holden

Schenectady

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