New York's new budget will increase pay 2 percent for about 100,000 caretakers of the disabled and others next year, the first raise in several years for many.
They will get a second cost-of-living adjustment next April, along with about 30,000 caseworkers, nurses and social workers.
Both raises cover residential and developmental aides and food service workers at nonprofits funded by six state agencies that serve developmentally disabled, mentally ill, addicted, elderly and juvenile clients.
"Direct caregivers are entrusted with the well-being of some of New York's most vulnerable people," said Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, whose adult son lives in a state-funded group home on Long Island. "Their duties are often daunting, heartbreaking and physically challenging."
The Cuomo administration initially proposed keeping their pay flat for the fiscal year that started two weeks ago as part of its push to keep state spending down. Its longer-term financial plan assumed adding raises the following three years.
Legislators wanted the raises immediately, arguing that continuing the already low pay forces many staff to work unsafe amounts of overtime or take second jobs while increasing turnover. Weisenberg, who got most Assembly members to sign a letter supporting the raises, said they're still not enough for the work.
The six agencies are the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, Office of Mental Health, Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuses Services, Department of Health, Office of Children and Family Services, and State Office for the Aging.
The Budget Division estimates the cost at $13 million in the current fiscal year, which started April 1, growing to $122 million next year.
The Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State and NYSARC Inc. had urged legislators to include a 3 percent raise, saying many of the people providing hands-on care for disabled New Yorkers are near the bottom of the wage scale and hadn't received a raise in four straight years, effectively an 8 percent pay cut when inflation is considered.