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Gabryszak, Kearns, Grisanti, Kennedy Congratulate Disabilities Advocates for Helping Restore Funds |

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Gabryszak, Kearns, Grisanti, Kennedy Congratulate Disabilities Advocates for Helping Restore Funds
Gabryszak, Kearns, Grisanti, Kennedy Congratulate Disabilities Advocates for Helping Restore Funds

Assemblymember Dennis H. Gabryzak (D-Cheektowaga), Assemblymember Michael P. Kearns (D-Buffalo) and advocates from the disabilities community in Western New York announced Saturday that the New York State Assembly plans to restore $120 million in funding for the Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) in their budget. Senators Mark Grisanti (R-North Buffalo) and Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo) joined the Assembly members and advocates to make it clear that both houses of the State Legislature want these cuts kept out of the final negotiated budget.

Governor Cuomo’s 30-Day Amendments included a $120 million cut in State funding for support and services for the developmentally disabled.  Assemblymembers Gabryszak and Kearns received letters, emails and phone calls from parents, families and individuals with developmental disabilities expressing concern about the proposed cuts. Both Gabryszak and Kearns wrote letters to Speaker Sheldon Silver on behalf of the disabilities community urging the Assembly to restore the $120 million to the budget.

 “I understand the importance of the supports and services provided by the OPWDD,” Assemblymember Gabryszak said. “Early on, my son Brian was involved in a program at the Cantalician Center that had a profound impact on his life. We need to restore funding to protect the health, safety and quality of life for those who are developmentally disabled. I will do everything in my power to advocate on behalf of this community.”

“I’ve seen firsthand the good work and importance of these programs and how they impact the lives of the most vulnerable,” Assemblymember Kearns said. “My brother has resided in a State facility for over 50 years. I don’t want to see my brother or anyone’s family member be deprived of the supports and services they need. It’s imperative that funding for the OPWDD is restored.”

"I applaud both houses for restoring $120 Million in spending cuts to the OPWDD,” Senator Grisanti said. “Restoring these cuts will bring significant care to some of the most needy and vulnerable individuals who reside in New York"

“These cuts pose a major threat to our state’s most vulnerable citizens. If enacted, they would jeopardize critical services that individuals with disabilities and their families rely on,” Senator Kennedy said. “We must restore state aid to protect the people who need our support the most. This fight is not yet over. The State Legislature has made it a priority to eliminate these cuts, and now we must ensure that this critical funding remains a part of the final budget plan as negotiations continue.”

“We can’t balance a budget on the backs of those who need our help most,” said Terese Scofidio, Executive Director of the Cantalician Learning Center. “These cuts will severely impact the quality of life for those living with developmental disabilities in New York State. Just as the Assembly did, I urge Governor Cuomo to restore the full funding amount to the OPWDD in the budget.”   

“The state truly needs to be putting people with developmental disabilities first,” said Rhonda Frederick, President of the Developmental Disabilities Alliance of Western New York and Chief Operating Officer of People, Inc. “The promise of the People First transformation can not be achieved when the spending priorities of New York State put people with developmental disabilities last.  We thank the Assembly, and especially Assemblymebers Gabryszak and Kearns for their support.  We are hopeful that the Governor will also agree to the restoration.  People with developmental disabilities and their families deserve nothing less.”

The State Assembly and State Senate must pass one-house budget resolutions that will be reconciled with the Governor's proposal before the budget is due on April 1.

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