FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 23, 2018

Contact: Pauline Barfield, Barfield Public Relations, 212-736-0404, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

(Albany, NY) - The disability community has issued a report card to New York State on the final Budget and concludes that the State has failed people with disabilities. This year marks five years since the release of the Governor’s Olmstead Plan, which outlined the State’s efforts to make sure people had the supports and services they need to live at home with their loved ones. But instead of advancing those efforts through the Budget, the State has turned back the clock on community integration by failing to fund vital programs like Independent Living Centers, Access to Home, and by enacting Medicaid changes which make it harder for people to leave institutions and live at home.

“Year after year the disability rights community makes common sense, inexpensive budget recommendations that would help to increase the independence and integration of New Yorkers with disabilities, requests that are minuscule in comparison to the billion-dollar investments being made into institutions and institutional providers through DSRIP.” said Lindsay Miller, Executive Director of the New York Association on Independent Living, “Yet once again we are not only completely ignored, but left with new policies in place that make it harder for people with disabilities to access long term care services and supports in the community.”

The disability community actively advocates for programs and policies that increase the independence of people with disabilities and in doing so, save the State money. “Independent Living advocates were responsible for the creation of the Community First Choice Option (CFCO) at the federal level, and we were the ones to urge New York to implement it. As a result, New York is currently drawing down approximately $365 million annually in additional funds from the Federal Government for services under CFCO, and it isn’t even fully implemented yet,” said Bruce Darling, national organizer with ADAPT. “Instead of investing the millions of savings toward ensuring people have the supports and services they need to live in the community and out of institutions, the State failed people with disabilities in this Budget by leaving home care workers underpaid and making it much harder for people to leave institutions and get back into the community.”

The disability community has been advocating for Governor Andrew Cuomo to reactivate the duties of the Office for the Advocate for People with Disabilities, originally created in 1983 by Governor Mario Cuomo. The State Assembly proposed funding for the Advocate, but this was also not included in the final Budget.

“Any historical disability advocacy was eliminated by removing all advocacy responsibility from the Justice Center last year,” said Lindsay Miller. “The disability community needs a voice in state government and reinstating the duties of the Office for the Advocate for People with Disabilities would have been a good first step.”

 

Budget Reforms

The disability community also calls on the State Legislature to reform the Budget review process by creating a Disability Budget Subcommittee with a distinct table target. The Legislative Houses have both repeatedly recommended increased funding in their One House Budgets for Independent Living Centers, home modifications, and other disability community priorities, but none of these recommendations have survived the final 3-way Budget negotiations.

“The likelihood of Budget success would be greatly increased if there was a table target set in advance of Budget negotiations for important disability issues”, said Susan Dooha, Executive Director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY. “Our community has a broad range of priorities including advocacy services, healthcare, voting rights, transportation, accessible and affordable housing, and many others, and as a result we’ve been spread too thin across the existing Budget Subcommittee table targets and left behind due to limited resources and competing priorities.”

“Equally important to the disability community is Executive Budget leadership. “If the Governor would propose additional needed funding in his Budget, there’s no question that it would be in the final Budget agreement”, said Lindsay Miller. “Instead, the disability community feels that the Executive treats our issues as legislative member items, and not his responsibility.”

 

NYS Budget Impact on People with Disabilities
Disability Rights Community 2018 Legislative Report Card

 

The New York Association on Independent Living (NYAIL) is a statewide membership organization of Independent Living Centers (ILCs), community-based not-for-profit providers of advocacy, services and supports for New Yorkers with disabilities of all ages. ILCs are controlled by, and largely staffed by, people with disabilities. NYAIL strengthens local Independent Living Centers and is a leader in the civil rights movement for all people with disabilities.