Niagara Gazette

Local News

March 8, 2013

Rally targets funding cuts to disabled

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Maziarz looked out into the crowd where agency employees and members of the disabled community held banners that read "keep our funding" and "don't forget us" and said he wants to see the funding for the line in the budget fully restored.

"There's one cut that New York state and the families can't afford and that's this cut to the (developmentally disabled) community," Maziarz said.

Corwin, a member of the state's Spending and Government Efficiency Commission, has identified a surplus in the state's mortgage insurance fund reserve as one possible source to pull money from to restore the OPWDD funds.

"I believe we can pull $120 million from there," Corwin said.

The state should be seeking to move more services for the developmentally disabled from state-run facilities, which have higher costs of operation, to not-for-profit agencies.

"Now would be a great time for us to start more aggressively converting from the state facilities to the private facilities," Corwin said.

Walter identified Medicaid - which has a $56 billion line in this year's budget - as a possible pool of money to draw from in order to restore the money.

"This is not a Democrat or Republican issue, this is an issue about the people who are affected by this draconian, non-sensical cut." Walter said.

Ceretto brought a stack of emails sent to his office by people asking him to help get the funding restored. During the press conference, he waved them in front of the crowd.

"I want you to know, your voices are being heard in my office," Ceretto said raising his voice. "They're going to be heard in the governor's office tomorrow, next week and next year and we're going to hand deliver (the emails) to the governor."

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