Lawmakers and advocacy groups rallied Wednesday against proposed cuts to the state’s disability services.
“Today, we’re here to stand together and speak with one voice, to say that we cannot allow the balancing of the budget to be on the backs of those with disabilities,” said Sen. David Carlucci, D-Clarkstown, Rockland County at a noon news conference.
Carlucci said the proposed 6 percent cut to the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities would not only deprive people of services they need, but also would hurt the economy. For example, he said service providers will have to lay off workers and families will have to leave their jobs to care for their disabled loved ones.
The $120 million state cut to service providers will result in the loss of another $120 million in federal matching dollars.
“I understand that budgets are tight and the need for saving money, but these services save people’s lives,” said Shameka Andrews, 35, of Albany, who has Spina Bifida.
She said doctors predicted she would reach only age 5, but state services she received helped to prolong her life and improve its quality.
Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti said he is close to the issue because he has a son with autism.
“We understand the good that good services can do for a child,” he said. “We will work in our house to restore these very important funds.”