March 13, 2023
Last Push Before One-House Budget Bills
As we informed you in our last update, we are engaging our legislators to strongly urge them to include the 8.5% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) and $4000 Direct Support Wage Enhancement our the 8.5% in the Senate and Assembly one-house budget bills due to come out this week. The updated FY24 Budget one-click reflects the urgent need to communicate our message to legislators as they develop their one-house bills. This message will also go directly to Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, President Pro Tempore and Majority Leader, and Assemblyman Carl E. Heastie, Speaker of the Assembly. Once the one-house bills are introduced, we fully expect to pivot our focus towards final negotiations. The determination of this direction will depend on what is offered by the Senate and Assembly.

In addition to the aforementioned budget requests, The Arc New York is advocating for a 10% tuition increase for 4410 & 853 special education schools. 4410 and 853 schools educate children with disabilities who have no other option to obtain a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) because school districts are unable to educate them. Last year these schools received the first meaningful increase in years, but due to soaring teaching staff vacancies, combined with the current rate methodology, many were not able to spend all of the increased funding. Increasing salaries helped to retain teachers, but there was still insufficient funding to raise salaries enough to help attract new candidates to fill vacancies. We've launched a new one-click campaign specific to our education advocacy, and encourage you to participate. An information sheet to assist you in your education advocacy can be found here and in the Budget Advocacy Toolkit.  

Register Now for March 23 Rally and Impact Forum!
On March 23 at 11:00 AM, The Arc New York and our New York Disability Advocates partners will host a rally and impact forum in The Well of the NYS Legislative Office Building in Albany. The rally itself will be about an hour. Afterwards, people are invited to stay and talk to legislative staff and other visitors as they come through the space.

Stories of people with I/DD and the people who support them will be scattered around the room to highlight the dire need for investments. Please mark your calendars and register for the event here so we are able to get a sense of how many people are coming.
Our actions over the next few weeks and our interactions with legislators will be vital to our advocacy success. To support your meetings and messaging we have developed updated one-page handouts for legislators and additional talking points with our NYDA partners. We will have printouts available on the day of the rally so you are equipped when encountering legislators you might meet with in Albany, their District Offices, and online.

These materials can be found below, and in our Budget Advocacy Toolkit

Budget Advocacy Toolkit Materials

Days of Action Make an Impact
Last week, groups in Staten Island, Long Island, the Capital District, and Western New York, rallied in solidarity to support our budget requests. Others organized calls to District Offices. Follow the links below for news stories and outcomes from these days of action. Thank you to everyone who has consistently spread our message to state leaders and decision makers! 

Additionally, Hudson Valley 360 published an Op-Ed from Ken Stall, Chief Executive Officer of Coarc (Columbia County Chapter), and Dorothy Wheeler, President of Coarc’s Board of Directors. They drove home the message that the system of supports and services is "woefully underfunded," and, "One in three DSPs are leaving the field every year, from a role where continuity of care is essential." They cited the need for the 8.5% COLA and Direct Support Wage Enhancement to help stem the tide of DSPs leaving the field. 

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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