Budget Impact on Disability Services
On Tuesday, January 18th, Governor Hochul announced her proposed NYS budget for the fiscal year 2022-2023. The proposed budget outlined several key initiatives relative to OPWDD. The final NYS budget will be based on negotiations with the Senate and the Assembly. Overall, the proposed budget addresses a number of issues identified by system advocates and enhances funding for all programs. That’s good news for all of us. While we wait for these important decisions, here are some of the highlights. – Nick Cappoletti, LIFEPlan CEO
The Executive Budget proposes adding $40.7 million in State funds to support minimum wage increases for staff at many OPWDD authorized facilities – including not-for-profits licensed, and certified. In addition, a program to encourage workers to stay in their jobs will provide bonuses of up to $3,000 for full-time workers and pro-rated bonuses for part time workers.
It’s important to note that this budget falls short of providing the essential direct care workforce with an ongoing living wage. The LIFEPlan MFA Council Advocacy Committee, and our CCO colleagues, will continue to work with the legislature to ensure that the Fair Pay for Home Care Act receives the critical funding needed to support our members.
The proposed budget adds $15 million to expand independent living opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Additionally, OPWDD will invest $13 million in ISS/SD housing subsidies, and allocate $9.5 million for room and board supplements and reimbursements for existing programs.
The Cost of Living Adjustment, commonly referred to as COLA, will receive a 5.4 percent increase, the most significant increase for this sector in almost 10 years. COLA applies to voluntary (i.e. non-state operated) providers of services for OPWDD. This increase could have a positive impact on day services, respite, recreation opportunities and more.
The Executive Budget extends the employment tax credit for individuals with disabilities and creates a new Chief Disability Officer to address what prevents people with disabilities from finding meaningful employment.