Volume #21 – Issue #1
REGISTER FOR THE 2-29-16 CP OF NYS ALBANY LOBBY DAY
With the lack of funding for development, significant cuts, lack of trends, system “transformation,” and the $15 per hour minimum wage proposal (which currently does not include any additional funding), we know that the 2016 Budget and Legislative Session will require strong advocacy. A key component of that advocacy is meeting with your Legislators and key policy makers during our Albany Lobby Day as well as at home in the district. Therefore, it is extremely important that every Affiliate meet with all your Legislators and participate in the CP of NYS Albany Lobby Day on Monday, February 29th.
CP of NYS is joining with the Alliance of Long Island Agencies (ALIA) and NYSARC for a joint lobby day again this year. Additionally, DDAWNY will be having their Albany Lobby Days on 2-29-16 and 3-1-16.
Each Affiliate was sent an Albany Lobby Day registration form and hotel information. Please complete the form as soon as possible but no later than February 15, 2016 so that we can make appointments with your local legislators.
Please contact Barbara Crosier at the Affiliate Services Office for further information on the 2-29-16 CP NYS Albany Lobby Day.
GOVERNOR CUOMO TO PRESENT HIS STATE OF THE STATE AND BUDGET PROPOSAL THIS AFTERNOON
Governor Cuomo is scheduled to release his 2016-2017 State Fiscal Year Budget proposal and his annual State of the State Message this afternoon, Wednesday, January 13th. The Governor is presenting both his State of the State Message and his budget proposal at the same time because he said it doesn’t make sense to separate the proposals from the funding or budget. CP of NYS will provide details of what is, or isn’t in the Governor’s budget proposal as soon as we have them.
TRANSFORMATION PANEL DRAFT RECOMMENDATIONS RELEASED, PUBLIC COMMENTS SOUGHT
The Transformation Panel was brought together by Acting Commissioner Kerry A. Delaney to make recommendations on how to “re-imagine” the OPWDD system. The Transformation Panel’s Draft Report can be found here. Their report takes into account the voices of individuals and their family members, which were heard through a series of public forums held by the panel and Acting Commissioner Delaney. After reading the Panel’s draft report, please send your comments firstname.lastname@example.org. The time for public comment ends on January 22. You may also submit comments in writing to:
NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities
Commissioner’s Office: Recommendations Feedback
44 Holland Avenue, 3rd Floor
Albany, NY 12229
After the public comment period has ended, revisions will be made to the report based on the feedback received and a final draft will be ready in February. Work on implementing some of the recommendations has already begun, and will proceed to accomplish both short-term and long-term goals.
NEW YORK STATE SENATE ANNOUNCES NEW COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS
Following adjournment of the first day of the 2016 session, the New York State Senate has released its new committee assignments. New assignments include:
Senator Young: Chair of Finance
Senator Little: Chair of Housing
Senator Akshar: Chair of Elections
Senator Funke: Chair of Tourism
Senator DeFrancisco: Vice-Chair of Rules
Senator Ritchie: Chair of Rural Resources Commission
CP of NYS is very pleased that Senator Young has been named to chair the Senate Finance Committee. Before entering public office, Senator Young served as the Director of Communications and Development at the ReHabilitation Center in Olean, New York which provides OPWDD supports and services.
The full list of Senate committee assignments can be found here.
GOVERNOR CUOMO SIGNS THE ABLE ACT
Governor Cuomo signed the New York Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act as Chapter 576 of the Laws of 2015. The NY ABLE Act, which was sponsored by Senator Carlucci and Assemblymember Gunther, is modeled after the federal ABLE Act that was signed by President Obama in 2014. This new law allows for an individual to deposit money into an ABLE account that is exempt from any Medicaid or Supplemental Security monetary limit as it relates to personal assets. The aim is to ease financial strains faced by individuals with disabilities by making savings accounts available to cover qualified expenses such as education, housing and transportation – similar to Supplemental Needs Trusts or Special Needs Trusts, but without the expense of a trust.
Senator Carlucci’s press release on the Governor’s signing of the NY ABLE Act included the following quote: “This signing of the New York Achieving Better Life Experience, or ABLE Act, by Governor Cuomo will provide life-changing options for people with disabilities as it allows families to save funds in a structure that will ensure those funds are available for education, health care, transportation, housing and other expenses not covered by other benefit programs,” said Susan Constantino, President & CEO of Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State.
NYS MINIMUM WAGE UPDATE
The minimum wage for workers in New York State rose to $9 an hour as of 12-31-15. The New York State Department of Labor Wage Board imposed $15 an hour fast food industry minimum wage phase in begins 12-31-16 with $12 in New York City and $10.75 for the rest of the state. Additionally, the Governor has announced that State employees and State University of New York (SUNY) employees will follow the same increases (see chart below) to achieve a $15 an hour minimum wage. Unfortunately, and of great concern, the Administration has announced that the minimum wage increases will be funded out of SUNY’s current budget and that there will not be any additional funding.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio also announced a proposal, on January 6, 2016, to raise the minimum wage for city employees to $15 an hour by the end of 2018. The plan would affect about 20,000 unionized workers and 30,000 employees of outside organizations whose services are paid for by the city. De Blasio said he wants the hike for everyone in the city, but that the State must approve such a move.
CP of NYS continues to work with our colleagues on this issue. In addition to our letter writing campaign, CP of NYS and our colleagues have met with the Division of Budget, the Senate and the Assembly, the Governor’s senior staff and the press. CP of NYS and our colleagues continue to stress that we support a $15 minimum wage for our hard working and low paid staff but that the State must provide concomitant Medicaid reimbursement increases or there will be dire consequences for individuals with developmental disabilities, their families, staff and agencies that support them.
In addition, the Senate Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) has released their 2016 legislative agenda and it includes a “Caretaker Initiative” that includes state funding to increase minimum wage for Direct Support Professionals and other caretakers. The IDC press release on their agenda includes a quote from Susan Constantino, President & CEO of CP of NYS. “We support Governor Cuomo’s efforts to raise the minimum wage for all New Yorkers so that everyone who works a full-time job can earn enough to provide for themselves and their families. Non-profit providers of supports and services for people with disabilities and their families, such as CP of NYS and our 24 Affiliates, receive the vast majority of our funds from government sources such as Medicaid. We applaud the IDC for recognizing that the Governor and the State Legislature must raise the rates paid for the services we provide in order for our organizations to be able to pay direct support professionals and other critical staff the wage increases that are being recommended.”
HCBS WAIVER RENEWAL WEBEX ANNOUNCED – REGISTER NOW!
On Wednesday, January 13, 2016, OPWDD will be hosting two WebEx sessions to provide an overview of the draft 1915 (c) Comprehensive HCBS Waiver Renewal 2014 agreement posted to our website on December 23rd, 2015. The WebEx sessions will provide an overview of the draft renewal agreement and will outline the proposed changes. The WebEx sessions are open to the public and we welcome all interested parties to participate.
Please register for one of the two OPWDD WebEx sessions here.
Additional sessions will be scheduled if needed.
For your reference, WebEx instructions can be found here.
OPWDD PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD ENDS JANUARY 25
The Office for People With Developmental Disabilities public comment period on the 1915 (c) Comprehensive Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Waiver Renewal ends January 25. Further information regarding the public comment process is available on the OPWDD website at http://www.opwdd.ny.gov/node/6345.
The Waiver Renewal is retroactive to October 1, 2014 and will extend through September 30, 2019. This five year agreement will fund Home and Community-Based Services for over 80,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.