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People’s column

Opposing cuts for needy group

Editor, OBSERVER:

I am a constituent and supporter of New Yorkers with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They are our family, friends, loved ones, and members of our community. I am writing in extreme opposition to the governor’s proposed $335 million in cuts to services for people with these conditions.

Inadequate support from the state and federal government further threatens the health of safety of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Last year, voluntary service providers faced an estimated loss of more than $327 million due to the pandemic and program closures. They spent an additional $34 million out-of-pocket to procure personal protective equipment (PPE) and $130 million on hazard pay for Direct Support Professionals. These costs total over half-a-billion dollars, and additional cuts are proposed on top of that burden, putting the services we rely on in jeopardy. These are services we cannot do with and we are asking you to do something about it.

So what is my call to you?

¯ Reverse all proposed cuts to services for New Yorkers with intellectual and developmental disabilities and reject the deferral of the COLA in this year’s budget. This would help support our professionals, who are the unsung frontline healthcare workers vital to supports and services.

¯ Reject a 1% cut to supports and services

¯ Reject the 5% cut to non-Medicaid state aid funding

¯ Release $25 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds to voluntary providers for the recruitment, training and retention of non-supervisory residential professionals.

¯ Enact statutory protection to ensure all cuts to the intellectual and developmental disabilities system are restored if the requested federal funds are received by the state. Currently, there is no such guarantee.

New York has been under-funding our system of supports and services for years. A conservative estimate puts that number at $5 billion in underfunding and cuts.

This is unacceptable in any form. I am calling on you to honor and uphold the oath you took when you became my state representative. Our families and friends are not just numbers on a spreadsheet or beds that can eliminated to save money – they are individuals who deserve more than what we are currently providing.

I appreciate your time. Please let me know how you plan to respond to these cuts and how I can help further.

TIMOTHY ROCHE,

Silver Creek

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