Representing More Than 250 Provider Agencies in New York State
March 29, 2017
TO: COPA Members
NYS Legislature, Governor Agree To Make Initial Investment in Disability Provider Workforce
In what turned out to be a celebration of direct support professionals yesterday in the State Capitol, Governor Cuomo and the leaders of both Houses, along with the Mental Hygiene Committee chairs, promised a group of bFair2DirectCare demonstrators that they all support the addition of funds to increase direct care salaries. The Governor said he would not sign a budget that didn’t include $55 million (this includes mental health and substance abuse workers) for direct care workers. Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein, Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb were all unified in their support and all commented on the effectiveness of the campaign and the unanimity it evoked among legislators. The Governor noted that this funding would come on top of the increase provided to bring workers up to the minimum wage. This agreement will provide an additional 6.5% wage increase over the next two years for lower paid workers.
The announcement was made as the bFair2Direct Care Coalition held an event at the State Capitol to thank all the Legislative Leaders and give them “There for Direct Care” awards. This event is the culmination of more than a year-long, statewide bFair2DirectCare advocacy campaign conducted by all nine developmental disability associations across the State working to get funding to mitigate one of the key issues, low wages, which contributes to the disability field’s recruitment and retention crisis.
Staff, family members, self-advocates, board members and volunteers from our agencies have worked hard to educate their representatives in Albany about the desperate need for this funding. State Senator Frederick Akshar called the campaign, “the greatest grass roots effort I’ve ever witnessed.”
COPA would particularly like to thank the families and staff from our member agencies for their active participation and dedication in this movement. On behalf of all the organizations involved in this campaign, we thank the leadership in the Senate and Assembly for their unwavering support of our dedicated and highly professional staff, and to the Governor and his staff for their work with the Legislature on this critical issue.
While there is no guarantee of the precise details until the budget is passed, today’s announcement essentially ensures the budget will include a 3.25% increase in salaries for low wage employees effective, January 1, 2018, with another increase of 3.25% for low wage and clinical employees effective 4/1/18. These increases are in line with the $45 million per year State share, $90 million annually, that was part of the living wage proposal so strongly advocated for by COPA and the others working in the bFair2DirectCare campaign. (The $55 millionState investment announced by the Governor reflects the expansion of the investment to cover OMH and OASAS programs as well for the same group of employees.) COPA and its members really stepped up their advocacy efforts over the past 9 months, and it is those efforts, along with those of other disability providers, families, and staff, who made this campaign a success. We will be sending additional details on what is in the budget once it has passed, but this funding announcement is certainly good news and a long time in coming.
This announcement marks the first two steps towards the goal of providing direct care and other low-wage workers in our field a living wage. The plan that spurred the Legislature and Governor to action calls for an additional $45 million investment by New York State in each of the next five year.
Barbara, Wini & JR
Vice President, Government Relations
Cerebral Palsy Associations of NYS
3 Cedar Street Extension, Suite 2
Cohoes, NY 12047
Phone: (518) 436-0178, Ext. 104
Cell: (518) 424-3198
Fax: (518) 436-8619
Associate Executive Director for Legislative Affairs
InterAgency Council of Developmental Disabilities Agencies, Inc.
150 West 30th Street 15th floor
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 645-6360
Cell: (917) 750-1497
JOHN R. DREXELIUS, JR.
Government Relations Counsel
Law Office of John R. Drexelius, Jr.
PO Box 141
Buffalo, NY 14223
Phone: (716) 316- 7552
Fax: (716) 875-7552
COPA – Coalition of Provider Associations
Alliance of Long Island Agencies, Inc. ¨ Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State ¨ Developmental Disabilities Alliance of WNY, InterAgency Council of Developmental Disabilities Agencies, Inc. ¨ New York Association of Emerging & Multicultural Providers, Inc.3 Cedar Street Extension, Suite 2
Cohoes, NY 12047