Families of Developmentally Disabled Seek More Funding for Caregivers

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By Karen Dewitt – WXXI News – February 28, 2017

Just one month before the state budget is due, numerous interest groups are converging on the State Capitol, asking that they be included in the budget.

Among the more impassioned efforts is one from developmentally disabled people and their caregivers. They are seeking $45 million in state subsidies to pay workers more money to comply with the rising minimum wage in New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature last year phased in an increase that will eventually lead to a $15 hourly wage in New York City and a $12.50 wage upstate.

Former Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, who has a son with severe development disabilities, said the money is “loose change” in a $160 billion state budget. He said worker shortages with vacancy rates as high as 20 percent at some facilities have led to employees working overtime while not earning enough to live decently themselves.

“They can’t pay their bills, they qualify for food stamps, there’s something wrong,” Weisenberg said. “The state has an obligation and a responsibility to pay these people a living wage.”

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