Assemblymemeber Paulin's Able Column
Task Force Talks Budget and Legislation
March 2006

The Task Force on People with Disabilities has been busy over the last few months working both on the formulation of our 2006 legislative agenda aimed at protecting the rights of people with disabilities and our priorities that we will advocate for during this year's budget negotiations in order to protect and improve upon the programs and services that the disability community needs to live as independently as possible. We have taken a great deal of time to review the Executive budget proposal and consult with many of New York's disability advocates to determine our budget priorities for this year.

Among many things, first and foremost we plan to fight as hard as we have in years past to oppose and strike down the Governor's proposal to change various aspects of long term care services that are heavily relied upon by people with disabilities who are trying to live as independent, productive members of our local communities. These services are too important to too many people who could become extremely vulnerable if they are altered in the negative ways that the Executive budget suggests.

We have heard the demand and outcry to extend the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC) program to people with disabilities. The Task Force realizes the critical nature of this request, and because of that, we are working with our colleagues in the Assembly to make this request become a reality. Please know that we will do our best.

In addition, we have received many requests to fight for increased funding for both New York's independent living centers and the New York State Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID). The Task Force recognizes how important the programs and services provided by these organizations are and will advocate for them accordingly. We have also received several other requests, in fact too many to name individually in this column, to back funding for many other programs and services intended to help people with disabilities and their families. The Task Force intends to promote these requests during this budget season to the best of our ability.

Please be assured that as budget negotiations proceed, I will do everything in my capacity as Chair of the Task Force to protect the vital programs that the Executive budget has attacked and I will fight for additional funding for many of the great programs that are necessary for people with disabilities in New York State.

Furthermore, watch for details in both the Task Force's Spring newsletter and the next addition of Able News regarding our annual Legislative Disabilities Awareness Day (LDAD), which is being held this year on May 17th in Albany. As usual, we have big plans for this event, where, among other activities, we will advance a majority of our legislative package. On LDAD, we hope to pass initiatives to offer Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protections on the state level, improve and increase the availability of accessible housing for people with disabilities, ease transportation problems and make it easier for the disability community to vote, among others. If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please contact the Task Force office at 518-455-4592.

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