January 7, 2022
State of the State Address Signals Meaningful Investment in I/DD Sector
On Wednesday, Governor Hochul presented her 2022 State of the State Address and supplemental briefing book, which outlines an incredibly positive Executive Budget for the I/DD field. While specifics will not be known until the Executive Budget is released on January 18, we are hopeful for an investment in the I/DD field, the likes of which we have not seen in more than a decade. 

A major component of the governor’s agenda is to “Rebuild and Regrow the Healthcare Workforce by 20% Over the Next Five Years.” To achieve these objectives, some examples are highlighted below with corresponding page numbers in the briefing book:

  • $2 billion to support healthcare worker wages (pg.22)
  • $2 billion to support healthcare and mental hygiene worker retention bonuses, with up to $3,000 bonuses going to full-time workers who remain in their positions for one year, and pro-rated bonuses for those working fewer hours
  • $500 million for Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) to help raise wages for human services workers
  • Award Prior Learning Credit across SUNY and CUNY for health and human services workers (pg.23)
  • Expand workforce development partnerships to build a human services talent pipeline (pg.26)
  • Expand the Direct Support Professional career and technical education program
  • Expand the SUNY for All partnership with the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD)
  • Grow the home and community-based health care workforce through benefits and skills development (pg.26-27)
  • Retention incentives for the intellectual or developmental disabilities workforce
  • Direct Support Professional workforce skills development grants
  • Require private insurers to reimburse appropriate telehealth services at the same levels as traditional services (pg.31)
  • Make New York a model for the employment of workers with disabilities (pg.67-68)
  • Create an Office of the Chief Disability Officer to address the multiple factors preventing more people with disabilities from finding meaningful employment
  • Commit New York State Government to becoming a model employer by improving the civil service 55-b/c programs
  • Enhance the New York Employment Services System (NYESS)
  • Enhance vocational, educational, employment, and training programs at OMH and OPWDD

Governor Hochul previously expressed her solidarity with New Yorkers with I/DD, stating, "Throughout my time in office, I've made it a priority to listen to the disability community and provide the resources and support they need to thrive. People with disabilities have my commitment: as your governor, I'll always stand by your side and fight for you." The Arc New York will continue to remind the governor of this commitment and ensure that these historic investments and policy initiatives come to fruition this year.

The Arc New York Applauds Governor Hochul’s Commitment Following SOTS
In response to Governor Hochul’s State of the State address, The Arc New York President Jack Kowalczyk and Chief Executive Officer Erik Geizer sent a letter to Governor Hochul, thanking her for her commitment to stabilizing and strengthening our system of care.

The letter applauds the Governor's recognition of New Yorkers with I/DD and our dedicated workforce, and commends her intention to include workforce and COLA funding in her Executive Budget. The letter states that workforce funding "is urgently needed to address our immediate and unprecedented workforce crisis. The $500 million COLA marks the first step in long-term investment in the sustainability of our care infrastructure, and the initiatives outlined to professionalize the direct support role and create an employment pipeline will nurture a robust workforce for the future.”

In closing, Kowalczyk and Geizer thanked Governor Hochul for her pledge to prioritize New Yorkers with disabilities in her vision for the state, which will lead us to a stronger and more equitable future for all New Yorkers.

Send Your Own Message of Thanks and Encouragement to Governor Hochul
We created a new one-click campaign for you to send your own message to the governor, thanking her for keeping her promise to support people with I/DD and urging her to stay the course throughout the budget process. The letter can be personalized, so please feel free to tell your story from the heart.

The recognition of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and tangible investment in the governors State of the State packet represents a turning point for the I/DD field and the people they support. Advocates across the state have worked tirelessly to make New York state leaders understand and support our needs and goals. Governor Hochul heeded that call by including significant investments to support people with disabilities in her Executive Budget. This is just the start of a long budget process, but we are entering negotiations from a position of strength.

Please take a moment to extend your thanks to Governor Hochul and remind her how critically we need the promised investment. Your words and actions drive change, as demonstrated with the great advocacy success realized this week!
January 11 NYDA Rally Postponed
In December we announced a save-the-date for a New York Disability Advocates (NYDA) rally on January 11. In light of the Governor's announcement of plans for cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) and workforce funding, the rally has been postponed until after the Executive Budget is released on January 18. At that point we will better understand the proposals mentioned in the State of the State briefing book and how to proceed with appropriate and effective advocacy. We will keep you informed of the new date and time.

The Arc New York Pilot Program for Crisis Residential Placement Support
The Arc New York submitted a letter to OPWDD Acting Commissioner Kerri Neifeld proposing a partnership with OPWDD to pilot a unique program that could offer better solutions for residential placement support, tailored to the needs of individuals in crisis. The model is based on The AHRC NYC Crisis Intervention and Emergency Respite Program.

We have long identified the need for a more comprehensive solution to support individuals in crisis, both when residential placements no longer suit a person’s needs and when people need an initial placement. While existing models play a role and provide some level of solution, there is a substantial gap remaining.

Conversations are underway with OPWDD to discuss the pilot program and additional recommendations.

Governor Vetoes Education Parity Bill, but Promises $240M for 853/4410
Last week, Governor Hochul vetoed a piece of legislation that would have provided regular funding increases for 853 and 4410 schools on par with public schools. While we are very disappointed by this action, we are encouraged to learn of forthcoming investments promised this year. Due to our strong advocacy on this issue, the governor has recognized the dire need for adequate funding of our special education schools. As a result, the governor announced that a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of 11 percent will be included in the FY23 Executive Budget for 853 and 4410 schools. This funding for the 2022-2023 school year will increase preschool and school-age special education providers' annual funding by more than $240 million. Additionally, in his public statement, Senator John Mannion stated that, “Governor Hochul has signaled her support of addressing funding parity in the upcoming State Budget,” which would ensure that funding is consistent every year.

Governor Hochul also signed a package of legislation to support students with disabilities:
  • (S.2911/A.1953) establishes that the Autism Spectrum Disorders Advisory Board provide a report on autism detection, education, and mapping;
  • (S.6682/A.7614) appoints an impartial hearing officer to address due process complaints for students with disabilities;
  • (S.1662-B/A.3523-A) makes the issuing of behavior analyst licenses in New York consistent with other states; and
  • (S.5560-A/A.5339) provides funding to early intervention education for toddlers with disabilities.

Thank you to our advocates, whose dedicated and earnest advocacy helped bring heightened awareness to this issue. Our partnership with government officials and stakeholders grows ever stronger because of your commitment.
Register for Virtual Joint Legislative & Advocacy Forum
Our Joint Legislative & Advocacy Forum with the New York Alliance for Inclusion & Innovation will be held virtually February 14 and 15. The annual forum provides access to information on the 2022-23 Executive Budget proposal, upcoming legislation, advocacy strategies, and opportunities to engage leadership in the Senate and Assembly. Parents and family members, self-advocates, direct support professionals, not-for-profit agencies and other stakeholders will hear from presenters across a wide range of timely topics, reflecting the importance for us to be a strong voice in Albany this year and beyond.

The forum is free to attend, and participants will be able to enjoy the benefits of our program without driving to the NYS Capitol! Join us, and ensure you're informed and engaged as we begin the next stage of our advocacy from March to June.
Governor Hochul Announces Administration Appointments
This week, Governor Hochul announce several administration appointments and appointments to fill judicial vacancies, as follows:
  • Tania Dissanayake has been appointed Deputy Secretary for Housing
  • Marcos Gonzalez Soler has been appointed Deputy Secretary for Public Safety
  • James Katz has been appointed Deputy Secretary for Economic Development and Workforce

The full press release and bios can be found here

The Governor also appointed Supreme Court Justices Lisa Fisher, Andrew Ceresia and Eddie McShan to fill three vacancies on the Appellate Division, Third Department, which covers twenty-eight counties in Upstate New York, ranging from the mid-Hudson Valley to the Canadian Border and as far as west as Schuyler and Chemung counties in the Southern Tier.
The full press release and bios can be found here.
This and all advocacy updates are archived on The Arc New York website for future reference. Please contact us if you have questions regarding any of this information.
Contact: Philip Aydinian, Director of Governmental Affairs 
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