The Arc New York and Stakeholders Advocate for Special Education Funding
The Arc New York and seven other leading special education advocates sent a letter to New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr., and NYS Education Department (SED) Commissioner Betty Rosa this week, seeking clarification on the status of recommendations by SED regarding steps that should be taken to ensure our 853 and 4410 schools receive and retain the 11% increase promised by the governor and included in the FY23 budget. In particular, the coalition advocated for:
- An 11% COLA for 853 and 4410 schools;
- Interim plus rates, and
- The discontinuation of annual reconciliation rates for five years.
- If the elimination of rate reconciliation for five years is not possible at this time, we highly endorse the recommendation made by the Commissioner to adjust the direct/non-direct cost screens from 70/30 to 65/35; and
- to hold schools harmless due to enrollment declines of 5% or more.
In December Governor Hochul promised an historic investment in special education of $240 million. However, the 11% cost-of living adjustment was not proactively included in the FY23 budget for 853 and 4410 schools, and can now only be achieved through administrative actions. The Arc New York will continue to remind the governor of her commitment and ensure that these critical investments and policy initiatives come to fruition this year.
Federal Budget Reconciliation Gains New Traction, Threatens HCBS
On Tuesday, Senator Joe Manchin made comments that cast doubt on the future of proposed investments in home and community-based services (HCSB) through budget reconciliation. Manchin indicated a shift away from social services being part of the packet, an investment which he previously supported. The last proposal of $150 billion for HCBS included substantial funding for states to expand access to Medicaid HCBS and addresses the decades-long workforce crisis and our current emergency.
However, this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to secure the future of HCBS supports for our loved ones and create a sustainable workforce model to aid in the recruitment and retention of a skilled direct care workforce is now at severe risk. With this funding, states would be eligible for a permanent 10-percentage-point increase in the federal Medicaid match for delivering HCBS, as well as enhanced funding for administrative activities associated with improvement efforts.
It is imperative that we impress upon our federal representatives the need for this funding. You can send a letter to your federal representatives in support of HCBS investment here.
Newly Drawn NYS Election Map Ruled Unconstitutional
On Wednesday, New York State’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, issued a ruling declaring the 2022 Congressional and State Senate redistricting maps unconstitutional. The NYS Board of Elections (BOE) indicated in a statement that they do not see any hindrance to the June 28 primary for all other offices on the ballot.
“We do not foresee the June 28th primary changing for our statewide offices, the State Assembly, Judicial Delegates and Alternates and any local offices that are scheduled to be on the primary ballot. Whatever adjustments need to be made to the ballot access process for candidates for Congress and State Senate for a new primary will be proposed to the court. We will do everything in our power to inform the electorate to ensure a fair and accurate election for the voters of New York.”
NYS Legislative Session Nearing an End
With only 16 session days left, we have shifted our focus to a couple of key items, including a personal income tax credit for direct care staff on the state level and efforts on the federal level to invest $150 billion in-home and community-based services (HCBS) through budget reconciliation as mentioned above.
Our proposal for a personal income tax credit for DSPs (S7643-A/A9200-A) was not included in the Executive or One-House budgets, but the legislation remains active in the NYS Senate and Assembly. A personal income tax credit is a critical solution that our sector needs to stabilize and reinvigorate our sorely depleted workforce. This tax credit would provide recruitment and retention incentives to these vital employees, recognize their essential work, and address the significant workforce challenges of our Mental Health and I/DD service systems. You can send a letter to your state representative here supporting this important legislation.