The Assembly Minority Conference offered a pair of smart solutions to the 2019-2020 State Budget, proposing amendments that would provide greater assistance to the patients and professionals in New York’s disability community. The proposals presented included:
- Providing direct-care professionals with a 3.25 percent wage increase for both 2019 and 2020, which would take effect on April 1, 2019; and
- Preventing $75 million in cuts to the state’s Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP).
Both measures were rejected by the Majority Conference. Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C-Canandaigua) called out the Majority’s decision to block reforms that would provide immediate, necessary help to professionals who perform demanding jobs by blatantly ignoring repeated calls to protect our most vulnerable population, the disabled community.
“Without adequate funding, the disability community is at serious risk of a devastating workforce shortage and having personal freedoms and decisions stripped away. For so many, this is frightening and unfair,” said Leader Kolb. “These are measures we should be fighting for and advancing in the state budget process. The Assembly Majority’s decision to reject a timely and proper wage increase for direct care-workers, and threaten the services patients with disabilities receive in CDPAP, is disgraceful.”
Members of the Minority Conference have continuously supported the direct-care workforce, fighting for better pay for these dedicated professionals. In many cases, provider organizations have been unable to keep up with recent increases to the minimum wage, leaving employees underpaid and hurting the ability to recruit and retain workers. In addition, no funding has been allocated until January 1, 2020, leaving a nine-month period with direct-care wages lagging behind. Failure to adequately adjust the pay of direct-care professionals will put an enormous strain on an already struggling industry.
“Direct-care workers take care of the most vulnerable among us: those with developmental, intellectual, and physical disabilities,” said Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh (R,C,I-Ballston). “These workers are being punished, yet again, by a governor’s budget that fails to deliver on past promises made for a living wage. Can we blame these workers for leaving this field when they could make more money as fast-food workers? This is very upsetting. New York must do better than this.”
The CDPAP is specifically designed to give those in need of care the option to select professionals of their choosing — people trusted to handle delicate and critical day-to-day tasks in patients’ homes. It is cost-effective and compassionate. The governor and Assembly Majority have agreed to cut the program by up to $75 million. Under the amendment proposed by the Minority Conference, a work group would be formed to discuss and evaluate any potential changes to the formulas by which the CDPAP is funded. Doing so would allow for the necessary public discussion prior to making significant changes, and prevent these dramatic cuts from taking place on April 1, 2019.
“CDPAP is specifically designed to give our most vulnerable individuals the freedom and flexibility to receive the necessary care from trusted professional caregivers. Cuts to this program, a result of the state’s own mistakes, are a critical mistake. It puts those who rely on personal care for daily tasks in unfamiliar and frightening situations,” said Assemblywoman Melissa “Missy” Miller (R,C,I-Atlantic Beach), who offered the amendment on the Assembly floor. “I am disappointed that many of my colleagues would choose to punish these innocent individuals in this year’s budget.”