November 18, 2022
NYDA Rally Brings Hundreds of Advocates to Capitol
Hundreds of advocates from The Arc New York and our New York Disability Advocates (NYDA) partners rallied together in the NYS Capitol War Room on Wednesday, calling for investments in our DSP workforce and the services that are essential to supporting New Yorkers with I/DD. The first snowfall of the year couldn't deter our advocacy, as hundreds of energized people came to Albany from across the state to share their stories and raise their voices.

Thank you to all who were able to make it and for those who continue to advocate in myriad other ways. A gallery from the event can be found here.

The Times Union and Spectrum News ran coverage of the rally and our specific budget requests.

The Arc New York and our NYDA partners are calling for:
  • Establishment of a Direct Support Wage Enhancement (DSWE)
  • Inclusion of the statutory 8.5% Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA)

Under the DSWE provider agencies will receive $4,000 per eligible employee to be used for the purpose of enhancing the hourly rate of pay for all staff that have direct care/support responsibilities for individuals with I/DD. This wage enhancement will enable provider agencies to raise wages by approximately $2.19 per hour.
The annual COLA is intended to increase budgets appropriately to adjust for inflation and rising costs. In the past decade, inflation rose 27%, yet providers of supports and services received only a 1.2% COLA. A 5.4% COLA was committed in the 2022-23 budget, but this promised increase does not compensate for a decade of underfunding. Upholding the COLA will support the increased cost of delivering quality services and sustain supports for the future.

The rally was only the beginning of our fight. Our one-click campaign gives you the chance to easily call on your elected officials to invest in supports and services. This one-page flyer will support you in sharing our need and our asks. We'll keep you apprised of more opportunities to voice your support for New Yorkers with I/DD throughout the budget season!
DOH Expands Healthcare Worker Bonus
Yesterday NYS DOH announced the expansion of the Healthcare Worker Bonus Program. Under this expansion, eligibility has been extended to “all other health care support workers” working in residential settings certified by OPWDD. Previously only employees of hospitals and nursing homes were eligible for the bonus.

The Arc New York launched an advocacy effort in August seeking parity with hospitals and nursing homes, whose patient-facing food service workers, janitorial/maintenance and secretaries/administrative support were eligible, while essential staff fulfilling these same roles with voluntary I/DD providers were not. We submitted a joint letter to DOH Commissioner Mary Bassett with our NYDA partners calling for inclusion of our staff in the program, and launched a one-click campaign for advocates to call directly on state leaders to expand the program.

Thanks to all who voiced their support for our essential staff. Your voices have been heard!

This new expansion includes employees in our residential settings who meet the program's patient-facing criteria. Bonuses are awarded to eligible workers who make less than $125,000 annually and remain in their positions for at least six months. The maximum bonus for each employee is $3,000.
Arc Herkimer President/CEO to Present National Webinar 
Kevin Crosley, President/CEO of Arc Herkimer will join with The Arc of the United States to present a webinar about employment opportunities for people with disabilities on Dec 13, 2022 at 2:00 PM. The presentation will explore how Arc Herkimer has created diverse employment opportunities for the people they support through the acquisition of facilities in the community (many of which were donated) and the operation of a variety of different business enterprises. Strategic development of the facilities not only provides great work options for people but creates a truly integrated business setting, as many of the local organizations have joined Arc Herkimer as tenants in their buildings.

We are proud to see our Executive Directors sharing their insight and expertise on the national stage, and hope you will join in support. You can register for the webinar here.

2022 Election Results Update    
With the 2022 Midterm Election behind us, the compositions of the US House and Senate are becoming clearer. Despite a handful of undecided races, it appears the Republicans have won a slim majority in the House of Representatives, while the Democrats will maintain control of the Senate with an equally slim margin. 

In New York, Governor Kathy Hochul was elected to her first full four-year term. Republicans flipped several seats from Democrats, with Republicans now representing 11 of New York’s 26 congressional seats. We are also closely watching the NY Senate race (SD-50) between incumbent John Mannion and challenger Rebecca Shiroff, which will now be subject to a hand recount of all ballots. John Mannion is currently the Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Disabilities.

Key DOB Official to Exit the Hochul Administration
Robert Mujica, the long serving Director for the Division of the Budget (DOB) under Governor Cuomo and Governor Hochul is stepping down at the end of the year to lead Puerto Rico’s Financial Oversight and Management Board. While there is not immediate heir apparent, Mujica will continue to work with the Hochul Administration on her FY24 Executive Budget.
Want to do More?
Visit The Arc New York Advocacy Center for more ways to take action, including campaigns to support federal funding, employment opportunities, and our dedicated workforce. You can also find tools and resources to help you be a stronger advocate for New Yorkers with disabilities.

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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