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Advocates for people with disabilities seek state budget money for higher wages

Karen DeWitt
New Yorkers with developmental disabilities and their caregivers demonstrated outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo's speech in Albany Jan. 11..

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is due to release his budget on Tuesday, and agencies that work with those with intellectual disabilities are among those hoping for more funds. They say they need help to pay workers the new higher minimum wage.

New York’s minimum wage is going up over the next few years, to $15 eventually in New York City and lesser amounts upstate. Groups that provide services for the developmentally disabled rely on Medicaid reimbursements to pay their workers, and they say they’ll have a hard time meeting the higher wages without more money from the state.

Michael Seereiter with the New York State Rehabilitation Association is part of a group that held a demonstration outside one of Cuomo’s State of the State speeches in Albany. He said $45 million is needed.

“We’re in a real crisis at this point,” he said. “If we don’t get this corrected and don’t get funding in this year’s budget, I think we’re going to see organizations fall, quite frankly.”

The governor did not mention the funding in his speeches. The groups hope he’ll come through in the state budget.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.