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Advocates Upset Over Proposed Cuts To State's Developmental Disability Services

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Advocates are upset after cuts to the state's office for people with developmental disabilities were made as part of the budget deal. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

As part of the budget deal, the state's office for people with developmental disabilities was cut by 6 percent, causing critics to say important caregivers will lose their jobs.

Advocates had been working to restore that money, but it does not appear to have been settled in the budget agreement.

"It's a tricky number in that there are some restorations. Plus, there's additional federal money that was announced that we are going to appropriate," said Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. "So the overall appropriations will be higher than they were last year."

The funds were slashed by $120 million, but with federal matching funds, the total loss is $240 million.

"We're hearing only $30 million is being discussed as a restoration, and that they are looking at other things, but nothing is popping up," said Margaret Raustiala, an advocate for the developmentally disabled.

Legislative leaders have said that they were looking for ways to use a different pot of federal money to offset the cuts, but there are restrictions.

"You cannot spend the federal money to replace cut money," Silver said.

This has left the issue unsettled for the time being, as advocates gripe that state leaders managed to find room in the budget for a modest middle-class tax cut in the form of a $350 rebate check.

It's a payment that will go out to homeowners next year, when members of the legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo happen to be up for re-election.

"It seems to me that if they can find $350 million to send a check to people for a couple of hundred bucks, they can find the $120 million to really preserve the services for those who are so disabled and in need," Raustiala said. "It makes no sense. It's totally illogical."

Democrats often say that budgets should not be balanced in the backs of the most vulnerable. But in this case, Governor Cuomo insisted that the cuts will reduce overhead and target high-paying executive salaries.

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