After budget cuts, legislative package aims to help disabled


| mhayes@queenscourier.com |

In the wake of a significant budget cut to programs for developmentally disabled people, lawmakers are seeking ways to provide such individuals with more security.

A budget amendment enacted by Governor Andrew Cuomo cut 4.5 percent of state funding for organizations that help disabled individuals live healthy and independent lifestyles. Now, advocates both in and outside of the governor’s administration are fighting for legislation intended to protect the quality of support and services for these individuals.

“This legislative package will work to help remove unnecessary and discriminatory barriers that prevent many people with disabilities from living well-deserved self-reliant lives,” said Assemblymember Phil Goldfeder, chair of the Mental Health Subcommittee on Autism Retention.

One of several bills in the package is the People with Developmental Disabilities Restoration and Reinvestment Act of 2013. It would appropriate up to $90 million to fully restore state funding to services for people with developmental disabilities.

The bill would tap savings to implement an agenda focused on services for individuals, community integration and more. The legislature would make up for funds not covered by the savings through a contingency appropriation.

Another bill in the package would amend the state’s Human Rights Law to require state and local government facilities to remove barriers which limit access to transportation or government services and buildings.

An additional bill would establish an advocacy program to advise individuals about their rights and responsibilities. Other bills entail access to sign language interpreters, housing preferences for tenants with limited mobility, eliminating discriminatory practices and more.

“This legislative package will provide the necessary state funding to improve the behavior and growth of individuals with developmental disabilities,” Goldfeder said. “There has been significant progress in achieving mental and physical health parity in New York State.”

The Assembly and the Senate will vote on the package in the coming weeks.

 

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