May 6, 2022
Urgent Call to Action: Special Education School Funding
In our April 29 Advocacy Update, we noted The Arc New York's advocacy efforts in support of funding for special education. Now, we are taking this message directly to Governor Hochul through your grassroots action! We're calling on you to join the fight and send a message to the Governor through our one-click advocacy campaign.

Last year, Governor Hochul vetoed legislation which would have provided special education schools (4410, 853 & Special Act schools) funding parity with the yearly public-school increase. In her veto message, she promised a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of 11% for the 2022-23 school year, which was reiterated in the Executive Budget proposal. 

However, due to the current tuition funding structure, the final budget language, and disagreements between the State Education Department (SED) and Division of Budget (DOB), most schools will not be able receive this promised 11% increase. We cannot allow administrative gridlock to block this much needed funding.

Take action and urge the governor and the DOB to find a solution that keeps the promise to our special education schools for an 11% ($240 million) increase effective July 1, 2022. New York’s most vulnerable children deserve it!
Assembly Disabilities Awareness Day & Legislative Package
On Wednesday the NYS Assembly held their annual Disabilities Awareness Day, which included a powerful press conference and the passage of a 10-bill package to advance equity for New Yorkers with disabilities! We extend our congratulations and appreciation to AHRC New York City CEO Marco Damiani, who was honored with an Assembly Citation for his efforts to advance the quality of life for people with disabilities. You can watch a full recording of the press conference here and view a photo gallery from the event here.

The bills included in the legislative package aim to make it easier for New Yorkers with disabilities to access services. Some highlights include a bill establishing a commission to evaluate and make recommendations for state agencies to streamline eligibility requirements and processes (A.8816-A, Epstein), the creation of a small business tax credit for employment of people with disabilities (A.3960-A, Cusick), and the enhancement of access to employment by requiring the Department of Civil Service to post opportunities on their website (A.8599-A, Epstein).   
Additionally, the package included a bill that would establish a public awareness program to combat the stigma and stereotyping of individuals with developmental disabilities (A.7356-B, Woerner), and another, which The Arc New York helped craft over the past year, to replace the outdated and harmful term “mentally retarded” with “individuals with developmental disabilities” (A.7443-B, Abinanti) in New York Social Services Law. The entire series of bills and quotes can be found in the Assembly’s press release.
Thank you to Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, Chair of the Committee on People with Disabilities, and our legislative champions who fight to move New York forward toward greater equity and inclusion!

Hochul Appoints Delgado as Lt. Governor
This week, Governor Kathy Hochul issued a press release announcing her appointment of U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado as Lieutenant Governor of New York State. Delgado currently represents New York’s 19th Congressional District, which includes the Hudson Valley and Catskills.

The legislature passed and the governor signed legislation on Monday that enabled former Lt. Governor Brian Benjamin to be removed from the ballot. Representative Delgado will now serve as the Democrat Party’s nominee for Lieutenant Governor for the June 28th Primary Election.

OPWDD Self-Direction Webinar
OPWDD is holding a webinar on self-direction on Thursday, May 12, 2022 from 7 – 8 PM. The presentation will provide a general overview of key actions that OPWDD has recently taken to enhance the self-direction model. The webinar will also outline several future activities, including a Self-Direction program evaluation funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Some topics that will be covered include:
  • ARPA-funded Self-Direction program evaluation
  • Actions taken to improve Support Brokerage
  • Policy and fiscal enhancements
  • New and enhanced support and training programs
  • Research and learning efforts for future planning

Attendees will be given the opportunity to provide input on future activities, including the Self-direction program evaluation, during and following the webinar. If you are interested in participating, you can register here.

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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