Party politics trumped backbone today when the amendment to restore funding to the Office of People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) was defeated. Weeks ago, a bipartisan group of 78 assembly members signed onto a letter demanding that the funds be restored. You only need 76 votes to pass a bill in the 150-member Assembly. A majority of the assembly told the public that they believed it was important to restore the funds. But when it came time to vote, the Assembly Majority voted overwhelmingly against the amendment to restore funding. Even many of those who signed the letter voted no. It looks like Speaker Silvers iron grip on the Majority Conference prevented many from doing right by the most vulnerable in our society.
This should have been one of the first items included in the budget. These New Yorkers have no lobbyists. They rely on us to be their voice. The Senate and the Assembly passed their own budgets that restored the funding. This shouldn't be over. The governor is wrong, and we should force him back to the negotiating table to fix this.
The most vicious part of these cuts is how they all hit the not-for-profit sector. The state provides half of the care for the developmentally disabled but consumes 80% of the OPWDD budget. Not-for-profits get just 20% of the OPWDD budget to do the same amount of work as the government. Now the cuts are entirely borne by the not-for-profits, who often do the work more efficiently than the state.
Lets get Comcast and NBC to do the right thing and give back the $5 million in tax credits for the Tonight Show to come to New York. Because they know the joke is the Tonight Show already was coming to New York. Lets ask Hollywood for some of their $425 million in tax credits back. Theyre always telling the rest of America that they care about social justice. Ask the studios and networks to back that talk up with action.
Clearly, Cuomo and the Assembly Majority who voted against our amendment are more concerned about appeasing the public sector unions that get them elected than they are about doing what is right for the developmentally disabled.