While Governor Kathy Hochul  failed to include a 3.2% Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA) or Direct Support Wage Enhancement (DSWE) for organizations that support individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) in her proposed New York State Budget, our fight for this essential funding is far from over!

On Monday, February 12, 2024, many members of the Living Resources family joined their voices with hundreds of others at the New York State Capitol, who love, care for, or are members of I/DD community in advocating for funding that fits the life-changing and life-enhancing work being done day-in and day-out in every corner of the Empire State.

Rousing chants of “Invest in Who? Invest in Me!” and “What do we want? Three-Point-Two. When do we want it? NOW!” could be heard echoing down the Million Dollar Staircase to the offices where lawmakers were at work.

The political rally, which was organized by New York Disability Advocates (NYDA), sought to persuade New York State Senators and Assemblymembers to take action in their one-house budget bills and prioritize the I/DD community and then advocate for their additions to be included in the final version of the Fiscal Year 2025 State Budget. Living Resources depends on funding from New York State to operate our programs and life-enhancing supportive services.

One-by-one, lawmakers who are committed to this cause took the microphone at the rally, sharing that this failure to increase funding is neither a republican or democratic issue, but a bi-partisan one that must be addressed from both sides.  Each thanked direct support professionals (DSPs) for all that they do to support the I/DD community and pledged that they will carry our banner into their budget talks. While wages for direct support staff at nonprofit providers stagnated, the state provided significant increases for staff doing the same work at state-operated providers. Our DSPs deserve pay equity. We depend on state funding to pay our DSPs and provide the future raises that our DSPs are so deserving of. A 3.2% COLA and a DSWE will help us keep up with inflation and combat what has become a statewide staffing crisis being faced by so many organizations like ours.

We need your help to make our voices heard. Please  reach out to your state representatives to let them know that you stand with us. By adding your voice to ours, we are more likely to be heard before it is too late and the budget is final on April 1. Our friends at The Arc New York have created an easy-to-use online tool that you can use to send a customizable email. You can access it by clicking here. We deeply appreciate everyone who takes the time to join our advocacy efforts!