*** MEDIA ADVISORY***
***Friday, March 8th at 3:00 PM***
Brewster, N.Y. – (3/05/13) – Senator Greg Ball (R,C,I – Patterson) will be hosting a press conference on Friday afternoon to urge Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature to avoid a massive reduction in funding for programs and services to people with developmental disabilities.
The proposed state budget plans to cut funding to the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) by 6% across the board, a $240 million cut or ($120 million state share). The cut means a $2.2 million cut to Arc of Westchester and a $1.2 million cut to Arc of Putnam.
“We should not and cannot be balancing the state budget on the backs of our most vulnerable population,” said Senator Greg Ball. “In a time when these services are needed and being used more than ever we should be increasing the funding and not slashing it.”
Over the past two years, the Arc of Westchester, the oldest and largest agency in Westchester County that serves children and adults who have developmental disabilities and their families, has been cut over $3 Million. The current proposed 6% project cut would remove another $2.2 Million from their budget. While Arc of Westchester has received over 9% in cuts, the number of people they serve has increased by 12%.
The Executive Director of the Arc of Westchester, Richard Swierat, said that a 6% cut would be detrimental for the growing population that relies on their services.
“The lives of our loved ones are at stake. Residential, day programs and teenage transitional programs are among those at risk of being impacted in the near future,” said Swierat in a letter. “In a time when demand for our services is on the rise – with increased autism diagnoses, expanded life expectancy and more families than ever turning to us for our life-transforming assistance – we cannot allow our government’s commitment to people with developmental disabilities to be weakened.”
“A $1.2 million cut to Putnam ARC is devastating to our programs,” said PARC Executive Director Susan Limongello. “Over the past three years, Putnam ARC has taken over $1 million in cuts. These newest cuts will directly impact the staff members who provide critical services to children and adults with developmental disabilities. We are anticipating reducing our workforce which will put the most vulnerable Putnam County residents at risk. These cuts could also have a life-changing impact for families who depend on Putnam ARC for vital programs and services.”
The cuts will become effective April 1, 2013, if passed by the New York State Legislature – putting programs that support people with developmental disabilities statewide in immediate jeopardy.
“New York State touts itself as the model of progressive government. It is time it proves it, by restoring these unprecedented cuts for New Yorkers with developmental disabilities,” said Senator Greg Ball’s Special Needs Advisory Council Chair Terry Pirraglia. “Our family members lives should not be put at risk in order to balance the budget. The safety and quality of life of New Yorkers with developmental disabilities should be the true bottom line.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Ability Beyond Disability, Tom Fanning said, “a 6% cut would be absolutely devastating. Quality of service and even basic health and safety will be compromised with a cut of this magnitude.”
What: Ball and Westchester Arc urge legislature to avoid 6% cuts
Who: Senator Greg Ball, Arc of Westchester, Putnam ARC, Leake and Watts, YAI, Westchester Jewish Community Services, WIHD, Cardinal McCloskey Services, Opengate, Richmond Community Services, Community Based Services, Community Living Corporation, CP Westchester, Hudson Valley Region- Self Advocacy Association of NY, Abbott House, IAHD NY, Ability Beyond Disability and others.
When: Friday, March 8th at 3pm
Where: Arc of Westchester, 265 Saw Mill River Road, Hawthorne, NY.
For more information, please contact Joe Bachmeier at (845) 200 9716.