Gov’s proposed budget paints a grim picture for disability services

Governor Kathy Hochul released her executive budget proposal today, and the picture she paints for our future is grim. 

If enacted, nonprofit providers of supports and services for New Yorkers with intellectual and developmental disabilities will receive a mere 1.5% cost of living increase. This minimal increase does not even compensate for the reality of inflation and the rising cost of delivering services. It certainly does nothing to reverse our escalating workforce crisis.  

Most importantly, she does not address the erosion of care and supports that New Yorkers with disabilities have endured for years and continues her administration’s failure to recognize the real cost of doing business in New York – last year she proposed 2.5% when inflation was at 8.5%, and this year inflation is at 3.2% and she’s offering 1.5%

In short, the Governor emphasized that the safety and well-being of all New Yorkers with disabilities is far from her top priority.  

The Governor’s stated investment in new housing and new service opportunities in the Mental Health arena may be well intentioned, but without a workforce investment those homes and services will succumb to the same neglect our providers currently face. 

The 1.5% cost of living adjustment she suggests for the system that cares for New Yorkers with disabilities will continue an already protracted workforce crisis, negatively impacting the care and essential services these New Yorkers need. A 1.5% COLA will do little to help a field where nearly 40% of providers are closing or reducing programs; where 1 in 3 DSPs leave the field; and where more than 20,000 direct-support positions are unfilled.

The Governor said in her address today that “we can’t spend like there’s no tomorrow, because tomorrow always comes.” 

We agree. 

But where the Governor is choosing to spend New York’s limited funds – and where she is not – ensures that those tomorrows will be worse for New Yorkers with disabilities.

This budget proposal does not prioritize people with disabilities, though there is acknowledgement that an investment in primary care for people with I/DD is necessary – and we are pleased to see that rates will be increased for providers serving the disability community.

That one highlight really isn’t enough.  

We ask that all our Affiliates work with your legislators to ensure the lives of New York’s most vulnerable citizens are the priority they should be.  

We need to be in this fight together – things continue to get worse, and we must raise our advocacy game considerably.  We have asked a lot of our Affiliates this year when it comes to advocacy. And now we’re asking you again: 

Don’t give up.  

Meet with your representatives. Send them letters. Encourage your staff and families to do the same. 

Let’s keep the pressure on and get people with disabilities and the system that cares for them the respect and the resources they deserve! 

We will be back to you soon with specific budget details, but at first glance – saying we’re not happy with what we see is an understatement.  We have our work cut out for us and we look forward to working will all our Affiliates to put an end to the ongoing trend of undervaluing the I/DD community!