Hochul budget

Last year’s New York State legislative session failed Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), the dedicated, hard-working and critical workforce that helps care for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This year is not shaping up to be any better.

The $229 billion in the current 2023-2024 budget had landed on a mere 4% cost of living increase for DSPs, ignoring an escalating crisis in the disability community that has seen DSPs jumping ship, group homes closing, and support services and agencies understaffed and overworked.

New York Alliance for Developmental Disabilities had been asking for 12.5% COLA for non-profit service providers (with 8.5% being negotiated in the budget dealings) and a DSP wage enhancement of $8,000 to boost their pay, the latter of which didn’t make it into the budget at all.

This year, Gov. Kathy Hochul seemingly has decided not to fix the crisis. In fact, it gives DSPs additional responsibilities without adequate compensation.

Here, in its entirety, is a statement released by The ARC New York that does a great explaining the situation:

“Governor Kathy Hochul released her FY 2025 budget today. In her budget address, she pointedly acknowledged years of “neglect and disinvestment” in New York’s system of supports and services for New Yorkers with I/DD. She committed to reversing that neglect.

Unfortunately, the budget she’s proposed is not a real solution. If the Governor wants to better support New Yorkers with I/DD, she needs to listen.

Year after year we emphatically tell state leaders that the workforce crisis is crippling our system. That is the crisis we need to solve. Now.

The Governor’s proposal includes investment in employment programs, new housing and new service opportunities.

She is not hearing us.

Twenty percent of DSP positions across the state are currently vacant. We cannot staff the services that exist today. We won’t be able to staff the new opportunities proposed for tomorrow.

We appreciate that the administration recognizes that our system is suffering from years of disinvestment. But she needs to recognize the very real crisis that has resulted from that disinvestment, and she needs to make meaningful investment in our providers and our workforce to address it.

Today, starting wages for our skilled staff are barely more than minimum wage. Yet the only mention this budget makes about our workforce is giving DSPs MORE responsibility – expanding their roles to include skilled nursing tasks – with no additional compensation.

The 1.5% COLA committed to voluntary providers does not even compensate for the year’s inflation.

Governor Hochul stated that keeping New Yorkers safe is her number one priority. We have made it clear we cannot keep New Yorkers with I/DD safe without staff. If Governor Hochul truly wants to break from the pattern of neglect of New Yorkers with I/DD, her commitment to the safety of her citizens must include a commitment to our workforce.

She proudly shared investment in improved access to swimming for all New Yorkers, enhanced state park programs, and expanded employment opportunities for New Yorkers with disabilities – all opportunities New Yorkers with I/DD will be denied because there is not enough staff to support access to them. The neglect and inequity continues.

We have told Governor Hochul what we need to begin reversing the decades of disinvestment she acknowledged.

We need a 3.2% COLA to help address rising costs due to inflation. We need a Direct Support Wage Enhancement to stabilize our workforce and bring DSP wages more in line with the skill and responsibility of their roles. We need commitment to sustained and meaningful investment in New Yorkers with I/DD.

We need state leaders to listen.

The Arc New York State Office will work diligently with its partners in NYDA to refocus our efforts over the coming weeks and months to secure that commitment from the legislature. We will need your support.

Continue sharing and participating in our current campaign to get our message to the legislature as they develop their one-house budget bills. Rally with us on February 12 at 11 am in the War Room of the Capitol. Reach out to your legislators to ensure they are aware of our needs and how this proposal fails to meet them.”

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