Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (I, D, WF-Sag Harbor) announced that he helped pass a bill that would restore up to $90 million to the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) to help nonprofits who work with some of New York’s most vulnerable people (A.6692-C). Assemblyman Thiele is a co-sponsor of the legislation.
“OPWDD-funded not-for-profits provide life-changing services for those with developmental disabilities, helping them get the care and compassion they need to live a quality life,” Assemblyman Thiele said. “Restoring the funding for these OPWDD services is vital and it’s something I won’t stop fighting for.”
Due to a dispute with the federal government earlier this year, New York State was ordered to pay back $1.1 billion in “overpayments” for services to individuals with developmental disabilities. Fortunately, through negotiations with the federal government, the state was able to reduce that “claw back” by more than half to $500 million and was allowed to spread out the burden so that OPWDD providers didn’t carry that financial burden alone.
This year’s state budget restored $30 million of $120 million in proposed cuts to OPWDD funding. However, this restoration is still shy of what is needed to provide services to this vulnerable population, leaving a 4.5 percent cut totaling $90 million.
“The need for OPWDD services is enormous; it’s simply not an area where cuts can be absorbed,” Thiele said. “The state has acknowledged and is working to correct the mistakes that have been made in the past, but that’s no reason to penalize the developmentally disabled community, their families and their caretakers.
“We’re approaching this problem head on because no one wants to see cuts in services,” Assemblyman Thiele said. “Individuals with developmental disabilities and their families need these services – their quality of life literally depends on it.”