ALBANY, NY (06/03/2013)(readMedia)-- Advocates are joining members of the New York State Legislature today at a 2:00 pm news conference in the Capitol to express support for the "People with Developmental Disabilities Restoration and Reinvestment Act of 2013." People with disabilities and others view the legislation as critical to protecting the quality of supports and services for people with developmental disabilities in the wake of the 4.5% budget cut. The bill, Assembly 6692 and Senate 4777, is sponsored by Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg and Senator Martin Golden. The Act requires the Legislature to appropriate up to $90 million to fully restore the state funding cut to services for people with developmental disabilities.
The bill recognizes the important measures that were taken in the "savings plan," as required by budget language, to minimize the impact of the cut. The savings plan is seen as a very positive step towards restoring the $90 million budget cut. However, it is unclear to what extent that will be accomplished so the Restoration and Reinvestment Act requires an assessment of the savings plan impact. To the extent that the savings plan does not fully restore the cut, the Legislature would fund the shortfall through a contingency appropriation.
The bill also requires reinvestment of savings, provided by greater efficiencies, into services for people with development disabilities. After years of cuts totaling approximately $350 million, advocates believe that current funding levels must be protected. This is especially true because of significant unmet needs, the cost of converting services to managed care and implementing a "transformational agenda" which includes smaller more person centered services, greater community integration and greater employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities.
Advocates and leaders said the following about The Act:
"There can be little doubt that State funding reductions to meet the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities will significantly affect quality of care to this vulnerable population. We thank members of the Legislature for recognizing this funding shortfall and making every effort to restore needed financial support," said Ronald Soloway, Managing Director of Government and External Relations, UJA-Federation of NY.
"We are grateful for the support of the New York State Legislature," said Susan Constantino, President & CEO of Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State. "Assemblyman Weisenberg, Senator Golden and many others have heard from families across the state and they agree that the cuts must stop. We are eager to work with government officials at every level to ensure that the non-profits will continue to have the resources necessary to provide critical supports and services to people with disabilities in their communities."
"We cannot afford to see services for people with developmental disabilities eroded any further," said Marc Brandt, the Executive Director of NYSARC, the nation's largest parent governed, non-profit serving people with developmental disabilities. "Maintaining quality is consistent with the goals of the people and families we serve. It is also a top priority of the federal government as represented to NYSARC by top CMS officials in Washington."
"We are particularly pleased that the bill would restore the savings achieved through efficiencies. The reinvestment of these funds will ensure additional supports for people who have been waiting for services and families with unmet needs," said Peter Pierri, Executive Director, InterAgency Council of Developmental Disabilities Agencies, Inc.
"It is important to assure that programs and services for individuals with developmental disabilities are protected from budget cuts and that any savings from closures or greater efficiencies are reinvested in the developmental disabilities system," said Seth Stein, Executive Director and General Counsel of the Alliance of Long Island Agencies.
"In western New York we have over a thousand individuals waiting for residential placement and the list is growing daily. This legislation is of paramount importance to families of individuals with developmental disabilities as well as the 22,000 people that the 44 agencies of the Developmental Disabilities Alliance of Western New York employ in total," said Rhonda Frederick, President of the Developmental Disabilities Alliance of Western New York and Chief Operating Officer of People Inc.