Assembly and Senate budget proposal restores developmentally disabled cuts

The New York State Assembly and State Senate have presented a budget that would restore the proposed $120 million in cuts to developmentally disabled programs.

The budget would also restore an additional $20 million to maintain state-operated mental health services in addition to the services provided by volunteer organizations.

“Many of these organizations provide around-the-clock care to individuals who reside in group homes or apartments, including home-cooked meals,” noted Assemblymember Joseph Lentol. “The Assembly’s funding restoration will allow individuals with developmental disabilities to live productive and happy lives.”

According to Assemblymember Peter Abbate, four and a half to five percent of the proposed six percent in cuts will be restored. “We are fighting for a lot of things,” he said.

Paul Cassone, executive director of the Guild for Exceptional Children and chair of the Brooklyn Developmental Disabilities Council, said that he was “very encouraged” by the fact that the Assembly and Senate had included the full restoration of the proposed six percent cuts in their budgets.

“However, the final outcome will be determined by the Senate and Assembly to work with Governor (Andrew) Cuomo to actually come up with ways to pay for this restoration,” he explained. “I am somewhat optimistic but the governor in some comments that I have read doesn’t seem to believe that the cuts would really hurt not-for-profit agencies. That causes concern on our part.”

Cassone said that he and representatives of other developmentally disabled groups plan to hold a demonstration in front of Cuomo’s Manhattan office on Friday, March 15.

“We really need the full six percent restored,” he said, adding that notable individuals who advocated for the restoration are State Senator David Carlucci and Assemblymember Aileen Gunther.

“It’s not over until it’s over,” Cassone said. “We have quite a fight still.”

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