GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Greenburgh-based Assemblyman Tom Abinanti didn’t mince words when talking about the effect of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s latest budget proposal on people with special needs last week.
“The governor’s budget is a disaster for people with special needs,” said Abinanti, a Democrat. “The proposed $31 million cut in the Office for Persons with Developmental Disabilities budget comes at a time when today’s needs are not being met and there will soon be even more people needing help.”
Abinanti expressed concern that OPWDD had to be represented by a deputy commissioner during a joint budget hearing on mental hygiene since there hasn’t been a OPWDD commissioner in quite some time.
The assemblyman also pointed out that there is no new money proposed for residential services in Cuomo’s budget, even though figures shown by the deputy commissioner list roughly 11,000 people who now need or will soon need housing.
The deputy commissioner added that there were about 6,500 people on a waiting list with some 5,000 more registered, explaining that the department was concentrating on providing emergency housing.
“We are properly closing down large institutions – saving some $60 million – but the money should be reinvested in community residences, not used to subsidize other parts of the state budget,” said Abinanti.
“The executive budget is a further cutback of already insufficient help for people who need it.”