State legislators seek to reverse cuts

Budget would have cut funds for care of disabled

Friday, March 8, 2013
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— The state Senate and Assembly majorities have agreed to restore $120 million in spending that was slashed from the state budget in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 30-day amendments.

“Both majorities have already agreed to restore these cuts,” said Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif.

The amended budget would have lowered the reimbursement rate for nonprofit providers that care for people with developmental disabilities. Reif added that it is always a priority to assist the impacted providers of this vulnerable population.

Since the cut was announced, state Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, said his office has been inundated with calls and emails opposed to a reduction in the rate. “It didn’t make sense, because you’re also losing federal money,” he said, noting the potential loss of matching federal funds if the cut was adopted. “It was a double whammy.”

State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, and Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, gathered Friday morning at Schenectady ARC’s Maple Ridge Center with developmentally disabled people and their caregivers to highlight this issue.

Tkaczyk spokesman Jim Plastiras noted that she has been consistently highlighting this issue and was pleased by the planned restoration of funding.

Also Friday, the Assembly majority released their version of the state budget. Their proposal included a 10 percent increase for state aid to municipalities.

Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Colonie, said the proposed increase was needed and would help relieve local tax burdens. In a statement, Santabarbara said of the proposed increase, “It’s the state’s turn to help out.”

“Although this modest increase is not a cure-all for our communities, it will help ease the pain,” he added. He noted that the two biggest recipients of such aid in his district, Amsterdam and Schenectady, would see increases of $320,866 and $1,254,287, respectively, for totals of $3,187,536 and $12,460,281.

The full breakdown of aid increases can be found at the Capital Region Scene.

The Assembly’s budget also increased state education aid by $334 million compared with Cuomo’s proposed budget. The proposal includes $208 million for foundation aid, $25 million for high tax aid and $100 million for Gap Elimination Adjustment.

Additionally, this proposal restores about $250 million in school aid that the governor wanted to withhold from New York City for failing to adopt a teacher and principal evaluation plan.

The Assembly’s proposals may not be included in the Senate’s budget and might be dropped when the two sides negotiate the budget in upcoming conference meetings.

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March 9, 2013
10:15 a.m.

In what ways are the reinstated funds for developmentally disabled services actually going to benefit the people in whose name they are intended. I know some situations where they have greatly enhanced the lives of recipients. They provide enough supports for them to live productive, individually meaningful lives. These uses are fantastic and enhance society in general.

Unfortunately, I also know these funds end up in agency coffers bloating budgets and staffs to the point that individual recipient needs become secondary, if not tertiary to agency and OPWDD needs.

Today's article omits reports about the Feds dunning NYS to recoup past over reimbursements. If this is a net shortfall, how will this impact reinstated funds.

The rainbow of issues that accompany these funds and services is truly mind boggling. Its like a self sustaining fungus. Its end product devours its initial purpose. Recipients/real people get lost, shunted in inappropriate services, wasting their lives, and our money.

Before just reinstating these funds, time, effort, and yes funds should be expended to determine who is actually benefiting from them.

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