Lawmakers to restore $90M for developmentally disabled

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State lawmakers are expected next week to restore $90 million in aid for services for the developmentally disabled after it was cut as part of the state budget in March.

Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, D-Nassau County, said he met with Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday to secure his commitment to restore the aid, and he also received assurances from the Senate for the bill. He said 130,000 people who have developmental disabilities would be impacted by the cuts.

capitol2“I said you can’t take money from a agency such as this that has a such a responsibility – the most vulnerable people in our state,” said Weisenberg, who has led a crusade to get the money back.

Cuomo’s original budget cut $120 million in aid to the state’s services for the developmentally disabled, but lawmakers restored $30 million in the final budget. Despite protests from legislators during the budget debate, the additional cut was not restored.

Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi confirmed the agreement, saying the state hopes to restore the money through savings within the state’s $50 billion health-care program.

“The administration has worked closely with all stakeholders to ensure that savings will not impact services,” Azzopardi said in a statement. “We agreed that if the savings plan developed by the working group does not equal $90 million, the balance will be appropriated during this budget year.”

Sen. Thomas O’Mara, R-Big Flats, Chemung County, said he was pleased that the money would be restored. The legislative session is set to end June 20.

“It was the biggest downside of the budget in my opinion,” O’Mara said. “Hopefully this will help with a very important sector of our community.”

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