On February 3, 2023, Venture Together CEO Matt Shelley attended a Rockland County Providers NYS Legislative forum urging financial support for Venture and other local ID/D service providers from our state elected officials.
Hosted at Jawonio by CEO Randi Rios-Castro, the event was also attended by The Arc of Rockland CEO Jane Zemon, NAMI Rockland CEO Sandra Wolf, and self-advocates and family advocates representing each agency.
Self-advocate Michael Gorkowski, who lives at Venture’s Reece Family House, and parent Aviva Guttman, whose daughter Elena lives at Rodgers House and attends Main St. Day Hab, represented Venture Together allong with Matt.
New York State elected officials Senator Pete Harckham, Senator Bill Weber, Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, and Assemblyman Chris Eachus were pressed to consider including ID/D funding and supports in their legislative agendas.
Issues addressed at the event included cost of living increases for Direct Support Professionals, the staffing crisis in the ID/D field, and the impact of inflation on services provided for the people we support.
In thanking the elected officials for their time and consideration of the ongoing issues in our field, Matt Shelley reminded them that “when push has come to shove, New York State has consistently matched the moral imperative to support people with disabilities to lead great lives with the financial bench strength to do so.”
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Check out these advocacy opportunities, and take action!
New York’s State Budget season has begun. The first step in this year’s process was the introduction of the Executive Budget proposal that was released by Governor Hochul last week. While the Governor has the opportunity to submit amendments to the Executive Budget proposal, the State Budget is now in the hands of the NYS Legislature. Public hearings on the respective issues areas of the State Budget have begun and leaders in the Senate and Assembly are compiling individual budget priorities and requests from the respective Committee Chairs in each house and its members.
As you are aware, the Executive Budget proposal included a 2.5% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for not-for-profit agencies which is less than the 8.5% we in the human services field had heavily advocated for. Additionally, the Governor’s budget left out the Direct Support Wage Enhancement (DSWE) that we had been asking to be given to non-profit provider employed staff; instead, the Governor’s budget includes raises for DSPs employed by OPWDD.
We’re now turning our advocacy and attention to the State Legislature.
Specifically, we ask that you contact your members of the Assembly and Senate. As they are preparing their requests to the Speaker of the Assembly and Majority Leader of the Senate, we urge you to contact your Assemblymember(s) and Senator (s) for their support of the 8.5% COLA and the DSWE. Here’s how:
Email or call the legislator and urge them to send letters, on their office letterhead, requesting the Speaker and Majority Leader to include the 8.5% COLA and the DSWE in the respective One-House Budget measures. The letter we are asking Members of the Assembly to send is here. The letter we are asking Members of the Senate to send is here. Importantly – when asking your legislators to send these letters, ask them to send you a copy too, so that you can share it with us and we can track who in the legislature truly supports our requests.
Both the Assembly and Senate have strict deadlines to receive budget requests for the One-House budget measures, therefore, we ask that you reach out to your legislators no later than Wednesday, February 15th.
If you have any questions about this important and timely request, contact Katie Mayo of NY Alliance at email@example.com.
Thank you for your advocacy.