February 28, 2023
Updated Budget Advocacy Strategy and Toolkit
As you are well aware, Governor Hochul’s Executive Budget did not include our budget requests of an 8.5% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) and $4000 Direct Support Wage Enhancement, which we have been championing since fall 2022. While we did receive a 2.5% COLA, it is not nearly enough to make up for over a decade of underinvestment investment, during which we received an overall COLA totaling only 6.6%, which pales in comparison to inflation of more than 27% over the same time period. We must now engage our legislators strongly to make sure funding is available for those with disabilities and the people who support them. Make your voice heard here.

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.  

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 have also developed two template Op-eds for you to customize and submit to media outlets in your community, both showing various perspectives. David Irish, Regional Vice President of The Arc New York’s Western Region, submitted one such Op-ed, which ran in The Rochester Business Journal.

One of the most important requests for these meetings is for legislators to send a letter (below) to their leadership in their respective houses about our requests. When you meet or message your legislator, please provide them with this template. If they are amenable to sending the letter, follow up to receive the copy they have sent. Please do not simply have them forward the template as is, without their signature. Assemblymember Seawright, who is the Chair of the Assembly Committee on People with Disabilities, also submitted her own letter to leadership with signatories. If you do not see your legislator listed, please reach out to them and ask they send their own. Many have headed this call already, but we are still depending on you!

We have also updated our FY24 Budget one-click to reflect the urgent need to send 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. 

These materials can be found below, and in our Budget Advocacy Toolkit. During our budget advocacy thus far, we have had over 6,000 advocates participate, resulting in over 23,000 connections with policymakers. We need to continue to push through all of March to meet our goals. Thank you for all your hard work!

Budget Advocacy Toolkit Materials

Regional Rallies and Meetings March 10
Mark your calendars for Friday, March 10 to engage legislators in their District Offices! We encourage Chapters and individuals to gather locally at Senate District Offices across the state for rallies and meetings. This is also the perfect time to call your representatives’ District Office, tell your story, and tell them why the investment of an 8.5% COLA and wage enhancement is so important. You can use any of the language found in the template Op-eds above to help guide your call.

NYC Fair will be holding a Save our Services (SOS) rally in Staten Island on March 10 from 10:45-noon. We will release more details as they come. If you are interested in holding a regional rally, please contact Philip Aydinian at aydinianp@thearcny.org 

Workforce Crisis Radio Interview with The Arc of Monroe
We invite you to listen to this great discussion involving The Arc of Monroe, Assemblymember Sarah Clark and others on WXXI News's Connections, where they voiced their concerns about Governor Hochul’s New York State proposed budget.

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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