Frankly Speaking

By Maria Dibble

“The key is Frank.” – Bob Dylan

Four decades ago, STIC was awarded our first grant: $100,000 from the NYS Education Department to establish an Independent Living Center in Binghamton. Frank Pennisi and I were its cofounders, writing the initial proposal and engaging in much advocacy to get the bill passed that created STIC.

Almost forty years later, Frank is retiring, his last day being April 7, and it will mark the beginning of the end of an era for STIC.

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Turnabout is Not Fair Pay!

Disability rights advocates were justly pleased last spring when Governor Hochul signed into law a state budget that established a separate, higher minimum wage for personal care workers, and dropped the state’s efforts to wipe out most of the CDPA program providers, known as Fiscal Intermediaries (FIs).

So they were deeply shocked this year when her proposed 2023-24 budget eliminated the special personal care minimum wage, cut wages for many downstate personal care workers, created an incentive for Medicaid managed care organizations (MCOs) to reduce the number of FIs they contract with, and gave the state Department of Health (DOH) new authority to eliminate FIs.

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Hochul Giveth and Taketh Away

Governor Hochul’s initial 2023-24 budget proposal sent two huge bombs hovering over personal care wages and the CDPA program, but at press time we didn’t know if they would actually drop. Advocates immediately sprang into action to try to get them revoked, or at least modified, in the 30-day amendment period, and state legislators expressed little enthusiasm for them.

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