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March 16, 2013

State may restore funding for developmentally disabled

PORT HENRY — Providers say the local impact from the governor’s proposed cuts to disability services would be devastating if they are passed with the 2013-14 budget.

But the budget proposals from the State Legislature this week restored $120 million for the disability-services programs that Gov. Andrew Cuomo had removed in his spending plan.

The $120 million would also eliminate federal matching funds, so the actual loss to the programs would be $240 million.

The final vote on the state’s 2013-14 budget is still yet to come, however.

WOULD HAVE CUT JOBS

Locally, Mountain Lake Services would lose more than $2 million from its $42 million annual budget, Executive Director Marty Nephew said.

“We would still have provided services, but not at the same levels. We’re fortunate the legislature voted to restore it.”

Nephew said that as many as 65 jobs would be lost if the funding is withheld.

Mountain Lake Services, based in Port Henry, provides services to people with developmental disabilities and their families. It employs 727 people at facilities in 16 of the 18 towns in Essex County.

In a news release, State Assemblyman Dan Stec (R-Queensbury) applauded the action to restore the funding.

“In our communities, we always believe in lending a hand to those who need it most, and this proposed budget cut would have taken hundreds of millions away from people who rely on this assistance. I’m pleased my colleagues in both the Assembly and Senate took action to ensure that would not happen.

‘ALREADY SHOESTRING’

Both the State Senate and Assembly passed the measures in their budget proposals on Tuesday, removing the 6 percent cut to private, nonprofit providers of support to citizens with developmental disabilities from the governor’s original budget plan.

“Providers of services to the developmentally disabled do a fantastic job helping our most vulnerable members of society on enough of a shoestring budget as it is,” Stec said in the release. 

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