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Non-profit groups call for more funding in the state budget for disabled care

Ellen Abbott
Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter (D-Syracuse) speaking a news conference this week calling on the governor to include more funding for groups that work with the disabled

Human service agencies from across central New York have joined the fight to ask Gov. Andrew Cuomo to increase funding in the state budget for the non-profits that help disabled New Yorkers.

Spending on human services by New York state has dropped by an average of 1.3 percent every year for the last six years, and it’s making it harder for non-profit organizations to do their job. Tania Anderson runs ARISE, an agency that helps the disabled. Workers there often help these individuals find jobs.

“One of the ironies of the current marketplace, is that our employment staff often earns a lower hourly wage than the individuals they are placing,” said Anderson.

These agencies are finding it difficult to hire and keep employees. That’s just one of the challenges many non-profits face at a time they say the state requires them to provide services, but then doesn’t reimburse them fully for their costs.  To get their point across, human service agencies across the state have started a public relations push called Restore Opportunity Now, meant to show the impact of continuous underfunding of human service agencies. 

Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter (D-Syracuse) says it’s frustrating for her looking at the governor’s budget priorities in a year where there’s only so much state money to go around.

“When I hear someone start a conversation with ‘we’re in a deficit’ and the next conversation is ‘we’re having a gondola, and the Buffalo Billion’, and talking about many of the projects around the state,” said Hunter.

She and others note this dwindling state support comes at a time when cities like Syracuse suffer from one of the highest rates of extreme poverty in the country. Advocates say they will continue lobbying lawmakers and the governor’s office until the April 1 budget deadline.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.