February 17, 2023
Budget Testimony, Advocacy Toolkit & Call to Action
The Arc New York CEO Erik Geizer delivered oral testimony at the Joint Legislative Public Hearing on the Mental Hygiene Executive Budget proposal yesterday, and The Arc New York submitted formal written testimony calling for the nonnegotiable inclusion of investments in supports and services for New Yorkers with I/DD.

The testimonies follows months of advocacy and activities. Just this past week we had a wildly successful Capitol Rally, Joint Legislative and Advocacy Forum, and a Lobby Day, during which The Arc New York Chapters met with numerous legislators from across the state. We must advocate fiercely with legislators to ensure that the 8.5% cost-of living-adjustment (COLA) and Direct Support Wage Enhancement (DSWE) are included in the Senate and Assembly one house bills due to be released in early March.

Your voice is vitally important to our advocacy. We've created a one-click email campaign to help you connect directly with your legislators to call for investment in supports and services for New Yorker's with I/DD. We encourage you to take a moment to send a letter, and to share the link on social media and with your networks. The more people who participate, the more legislators are aware of our priorities. Together we can lift more than 100,000 voices across the state!

To support your advocacy efforts, The Arc New York has created an updated Budget Advocacy Toolkit, including information sheets, talking points template op-eds and more.

This is an important time to advocate prior to the release of one-house budget bills, which are typically released the second week of March. If you have not done so already, please be sure to schedule your virtual or in person appointments with Senators and Assemblymembers as soon as possible to take full advantage of the budget negotiation timeline. Please inform Philip Aydinian, The Arc New York Director of Governmental Affairs, if you would like assistance with Chapter-level meeting coordination. Many Chapters share legislators and it is best for all represented Chapters to attend a single meeting when possible. 
500+ Advocates at Capitol Rally
This past Monday, over 500 advocates rallied in the War Room on the second floor of the New York State Capitol, mere feet from Governor Hochul’s office. Senator Mannion, Chair of the Committee on Disabilities and Assemblymember Seawright, self-advocates, DSPs and family members sent a rally cry across the capitol that an 8.5% cost-of-living-adjustment, a Direct Support Wage Enhancement (DSWE), and equitable pay compared to state-operated programs was non-negotiable.

Thank you to the many Chapters, self-advocates and families who made the trip to Albany. The energy in the room echoed the frustration of self-advocates and families. We will continue to echo this as we advocate for supports and services that meets every person who needs it.
View the photo gallery here and watch a recording of the rally here!
Governor's Office Responds to West Seneca DC Letter
On February 2, 2023, while touting mental health investments found in her Executive Budget, Governor Kathy Hochul made comments referencing the West Seneca Developmental Center, which was one of many centers closed over the past 40 years, ending the era of institutionalization. However, the governor did not recognize that the majority of residents were not people with mental health issues, but people with I/DD, the same people who have been forgotten in her own budget.

Erik Geizer, CEO of The Arc New York sent a letter to the Governor pointing out her oversight and invited her to speak with Judy O'Rourke, representative of the West Seneca Developmental Chapter, and other families who had loved ones in the West Seneca DC.

As a result, the governor's office reached out to directly to discuss the topic with Mr. Geizer. He emphasized the importance of understanding the history of our field, the specific needs of our population, and the fact that the Mental Health investments proposed by the Governor do not meet those needs. We are encouraged that they reached out in response to the letter. We are encouraged that our message made an impact, but we are not satisfied. We will continue advocating for real action and investment in our system and our staff. 
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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