Happy Valentine’s Day
By Maria Dibble
In all of my 38 years as Executive Director of Southern Tier Independence Center (STIC), I have never been able to write an editorial or an article that thanked a governor for giving Independent Living Centers a budget increase.
Until Now! Governor Hochul provided a $2.6 million increase for ILCs around the state. There are 41 centers, and as long as the funding remains in the budget, we’d receive a $63,000+ increase in the ILC contract through ACCES-VR. You may think that it doesn’t sound like a lot of money, and compared to our overall budget it is not, but the point is that this governor chose to recognize the work of the ILCs, and for the first time in my long history, has given an increase, instead of us having to get the legislature to do so. Considering that we went almost 15 years with only two tiny cost-of-living increases, you can see why this has made me so enthusiastic.
Hochul’s First Budget: What’s Not to Like?
Governor Hochul’s first proposed state budget is a massive, COVID-relief-fueled down payment on a restoration of sanity to New York’s disability services system. That being said, there are still big pockets of irrationality that haven’t been touched.
Advocates had been wondering what was going to happen to all of the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan Medicaid money. It appears that after the first couple of rounds of public paperwork exchanges (see AccessAbility Winter 2021-22), the feds at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and officials at NY’s Department of Health (DOH) got down to brass tacks in private and hammered out a plan to let NY’s budget process determine how most of the money will be spent..
Hail to the Chief!
On Valentine’s Day disability activists throughout New York State scored a big win when Governor Hochul signed a bill creating NY’s new Chief Disability Officer and announced the appointment of Kim Hill for the position.
Activists have been campaigning for several years to re-establish a cross-disability advocacy presence in the state’s Executive branch. Last May a bill to revive the state’s Office of the Advocate for People with Disabilities was passed by the legislature. It then lingered in the hands of the legislature for several months. Under NY’s peculiar procedures, if the legislature sends a bill to the governor while the legislature is in session, the governor has ten days in which to sign or veto it..