February 2, 2024

Rally With Us February 12!

Our next in-person rally is coming up fast, and we need your voice! On Monday, February 12 at 11:00 AM we will once again assemble in the War Room on the second floor of the NYS Capitol to rally with our NYDA partners for investment in the services and staff New Yorkers with I/DD rely on.

Wear orange to show your support of I/DD services, and join the call to let legislators know these supports and services matter to you!

While registration is not required to attend, it allows us to plan accordingly and to contact participants prior to the rally, so please register here. If you are bringing a group of people, simply let us know approximately how many. It takes some time to get through security, so plan on arriving at the Capitol by 10:30 AM. You can find additional information about parking, entry and other logistical considerations here.

Register for the 2024 Joint Legislative & Advocacy Forum

Our 2024 Joint Legislative & Advocacy forum is just around the corner! 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 immediately following the rally. The cost is $125, which covers the cost of the facility and refreshments throughout both days. 

The annual Joint Legislative & Advocacy Forum provides access to information on the Executive Budget proposal, upcoming legislation, advocacy strategies, and opportunities to engage leadership from OPWDD, 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.

View the agenda and register here. There is no need to create an account. You may register as a guest.

The Arc New York Western Region Legislative Forum

On January 25, the nine Chapters of The Arc New York’s Western Region held a non-partisan, virtual legislative meeting to share and emphasize our budget priorities for this year, provide an understanding of how supports and services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) are impacted due to lack of investment, and how legislators are a critical part of changing that course.

The forum was attended by over 130 people, with 25 Senate and Assembly members and/or offices represented! Attendees heard personal stories from family members, self-advocates, and providers, who highlighted how the pay gap between not-for-profit and state employees are escalating the staffing crisis and affecting people every day. You can view the forum and share with others here.

CEO Erik Geizer Speaks to WXXI on the Workforce Crisis

Erik Geizer, CEO of The Arc New York spoke with WXXI in Rochester about the impacts of the crisis and pay inequality. He shared the critical message that “many DSPs have to take multiple jobs just to make ends meet. Many are food and housing insecure. This should not be acceptable to the governor. It should not be acceptable to anyone." Read and listen to the entire interview here.

Budget Update: Senate and Assembly Briefing Books

Our attention has shifted towards the Senate and Assembly as they proceed through budget hearings and creation of their one-house budget bills. The Senate and Assembly have released their Blue and Yellow Books respectively, which contain a preliminary analysis of the Executive Budget as required by Section 53 of the Legislative Law. These briefings help give us a glimpse into the perspective of both houses and where they stand on revenue and spending. You can read the Senate Blue Book here and the Assembly Yellow book here.

We have updated our one-click letter campaign to reflect our request for the legislature to fund the balance of the requested COLA (1.7% increase) and the Direct Support Wage Enhancement (DSWE). Take a moment to participate in the updated campaign here.

Please share broadly across social media after you complete your letter. The Arc New York Budget Advocacy Toolkit provides additional materials and information for your use as you engage with your legislators. Since we have updated our website and advocacy page, if you have used the toolkit links in any of your own materials prior to that, please make sure they are updated to the new ones.

Memo of Support for Direct Support Wage Enhancement

This past week, Senator Mannion and Assemblymember Seawright reintroduced The Direct Support Wage Enhancement (S4127-A/A5268-A) as a stand-alone bill. This is an important step as we advocate for the DSWE to be included in the Senate and Assembly’s one-house budget bills. You can read the The Arc New York's memo in support of the bill here.

The Arc New York Signs On Support OMIG Reform Bill

The Arc New York joined 45 stakeholders representing thousands of Medicaid providers and consumers across New York State’s health and mental hygiene service system in sending a letter urging the Senate and Assembly to include the provisions contained within S5329-B (Harckham)/A6813-A (Paulin) in their one house budget bills and the final State Budget. This bill would seek common-sense approaches to the audit and review process for the Office of the Medicaid Inspector General (OMIG). You can read the full letter here.

OMIG’s role is to root out fraud and abuse wherever it's found. However, OMIG should not have the ability to wipe out whole programs and/or services based on technical errors and state system issues or discrepancies, when the service was delivered appropriately.

YOUR CALL TO ACTION! In addition to this letter, our NYDA partner, CP State created a one-click campaign, encouraging lawmakers to join in supporting the reform bill. We need you to send a letter ASAP, and please share on social media to spread the word!

Notable News This Week

Anne Mccaffrey, President & CEO of People Inc. shared her perspective on the governor’s Executive Budget with WIVB 4 in Buffalo, detailing the need for more investment into the system of supports and services for people with I/DD and giving concrete examples of the impact.

The Advocacy & Resource Center (The Arc New York Clinton County) was featured in two stories from The Sun out of Plattsburgh. The first celebrated 70 years in the community, and featured Executive Director Robin Pierce and Associate Director Lori Lobdell sharing the history of the organization, their role in the community, and the supports they provide to people with I/DD. The second, highlighted the opening of the ExploreAbility program, which is a reinvention of their day habilitation offerings, with many daytime activities, events, and a job skill exploration center.

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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