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UPDATE: Tkaczyk goes to bat for developmentally disabled

State Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg, voted against the health budget bill citing spending cuts for the developmentally disabled.

The freshman senator highlighted the 4.5 percent cut in the negotiated budget and grilled Senate Finance Chair John DeFrancisco on the potential impact. The cut is 75 percent of what was proposed in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's budget, who called for a 6 percent cut that would cost $120 million.

Tkaczyk has been raising this issue since the governor's amended budget introduced this cut. The budget resolutions for the Senate and Assembly completely restored funding, but Cuomo has insisted on the cut.

Assemblyman James Tedisco, R-Glenville, has suggested a tax credit aimed at the Tonight Show should go toward funding available to the developmentally disabled.

Tkaczyk noted that when the OPWDD commissioner came to a joint budget hearing she couldn't identify the impact of the 6 percent cut. As a result, the senator hoped DeFrancisco could shed light on the impact.

He said it depended on how the cut was implemented, but suggested the governor planned finding savings with administrative costs and not patient care. In response to Tkaczyk, DeFrancisco added there were references to how the cuts should be implemented in the aid to localities budget bill, which was scheduled to be passed very early on Wednesday and that's when he would talk about the specifics.

Tkaczyk, speaking on the bill, said the 4.5 percent cut will impact 429 people in Montgomery County and mean a loss of $1 million and impact 1,219 people in Schenectady county and cost $2.2 million.

“These are real cuts," she said. "We still don’t have the answers on how is this going to impact the people we’re serving”

The health portion of the budget passed with 34 votes.

UPDATE, 2:25 a.m.: State Sen. Tony Avella, a downstate Democrat, introduced a budget amendment that would restore the funding to OPWDD. The amendment was not ruled germane and was not considered.

Follow @poozer87 on twitter for more budget news.

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