January 9, 2024

Governor Hochul Delivers State of the State

Governor Kathy Hochul delivered the 2024 State of the State (SOTS) Address and released her “Our New York, Our Future” agenda today. According to the governor, The State of the State included bold initiatives to make New York more affordable, more livable and safer. She made a commitment "enacting a vision of New York … where people with disabilities are free to pursue their dreams." However, there were few direct indications that the upcoming Executive Budget would significantly and positively impact people with I/DD and the people and providers who support them.

The agenda includes three specific initiatives relevant to people with I/DD: to issue an Olmstead plan for all people with disabilities, support access to employment for people with I/DD, and support access to more independent living settings. More details can be found from the bottom of page 142 to the top of 144 of the Briefing Book.

Despite sweeping themes of justice, standing up for women and mothers, fighting poverty wages for full time work, and additional opportunities for healthcare professionals, mentions of Direct Support Professionals were scarce, other than a goal of expanding the clinical components of DSPs who work in non-certified settings.

Traditionally, the SOTS address lays out a positive and proactive agenda for the year. The FY25 Executive Budget is scheduled to be released next week and we will learn much more about where we stand and how to proceed.

Register for the 2024 Joint Legislative & Advocacy Forum

Registration is now open for our 2024 Joint Legislative & Advocacy forum! The forum is hosted by The Arc New York, NY Alliance, and DDAWNY, and will take place in-person on February 12 & 13, 2024 at The Hart Lounge of The Egg in the Empire State Plaza in Albany.

The annual Joint Legislative & Advocacy Forum provides access to information on the 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.

Find more information, registration, and hotel blocks here. There is no need to create an account. You may register as a guest.

BPHALC Supports "Invest in Me" package in People’s Budget

Erik Geizer, CEO of The Arc New York sent a letter of appreciation to the members of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus for including the "Invest in Me" package in their 2024 People’s Budget, which includes a 3.2% Cost-of-Living Adjustment (COLA), and a Direct Support Wage Enhancement (DSWE) for frontline staff.

The inclusion of our budget requests represents a significant acknowledgment from this esteemed caucus.

Centered on the theme "A Demand for Justice," the Caucus advocates for tangible, long-term solutions that align with the state’s overarching racial and social justice objectives.

You can view the announcement of The People’s Budget – A Demand for Justice! here and the entire framework here.

PBS National Piece on Workforce Crisis

Before the holidays, PBS Newshour broadcast a powerful report about the current state of our DSP workforce, which features a DSP from AHRC NYC and an interview with OPWDD Commissioner Kerri Neifeld. It captures the value of Direct Support Professionals, the realities of the workforce crisis, and the urgent need for funding to reverse it.

We encourage you to watch the report here, and to share this important message with state leaders.

We've created a template email to make that quick and easy for you. Feel free to personalize it or send it as is. Simply copy the text from the template into the contact form on the members’ website. You can find your local legislators using this tool. Click the link button to be directed to their website and then click "contact."

Letter Advocating for Full Reimbursement of Mandate

This week, The Arc New York sent a letter to Governor Hochul and NYS Legislators detailing the financial harm caused by the unfunded COVID-19 sick pay mandate. To date, our Chapters have collectively spent millions of dollars to fund this benefit, a cost which continues to increase with each passing month.

The millions spent on this unfunded mandate could be more appropriately invested in Direct Support Professional (DSP) wages. You can read the entire letter 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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