NY state budget could cut services for the developmentally disabled

New York's state budget is due on Friday, the first spending plan put together in Albany in the aftermath of the pandemic and the scandals surrounding Governor Andrew Cuomo.

However, there are concerns that programs and services for people with developmental disabilities could be hit especially hard.

37-year-old Anastasia Somoza has worked hard to lead a productive, independent life. She even spoke at the Democratic National Convention in 2016. She and her twin sister, Alba, have cerebral palsy and are quadriplegic. It is through home health aides and community-based services that they are able to live in an apartment instead of a group or nursing home.

But, proposed cuts in the state budget could dramatically affect their lives.

"That literally means that I may not have somebody around to assist me to go to the bathroom during the day," Somoza said. "When you get up in the morning, you don't think about getting out of bed because you can do that yourself, but those are the things that the people who work with me in my home do."

The state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities is proposing a 23 percent cut on top of a 16 percent cut implemented last July.   The agency works for Governor Andrew Cuomo.

"I would say that he should perhaps start to listen to families," said Mary Somoza, Anastasia's mother, who served on the Advisory Council to the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities for 30 years.

Mary is 73 years old and says she could never take care of her twin daughters at home.

"I can't physically lift my daughters," Somoza said.

"This is a very vulnerable population.  It's a marginalized population," said James Moran, CEO of Care Design New York which services the developmentally disabled.

Care Design of New York connects people with developmental disabilities with critical services like food, housing, transportation, doctors, and home health aides. He says the proposed state budget cuts will put a tremendous burden on families.

Republican State Senator Anthony Palumbo says the state legislature believes the $13B COVID bailout money the state is receiving from the Biden Administration will prevent the budget cuts.

"My house in the Senate and the Assembly, we have all said we need to fully restore those funds," Palumbo said.

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