The Assembly's march to approve the state budget was interrupted briefly on Thursday by an impassioned rank-and-file effort to reverse cuts in programs for the developmentally disabled.
"Whoever negotiated these cuts has never struggled with the pain of watching a child with disabilities," said Assemblyman Bill Nojay, a Monroe County Republican.
"I want to know why the state of New York is making is making an attack on people with disabilities," said Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, a Westchester County Democrat whose son is autistic.
Assembly members argued the programs that feed and care for the developmentally disabled youths and adults in group homes already often face short staffing that hurts care. They said money should be taken from elsewhere in the $141.2 billion budget. They cited the $420 million tax credit to subsidize movie and TV productions and $54 million that will be spent to help renovate the stadium used by the NFL's Buffalo Bills.
"Where are our values?" said Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, a Nassau County Democrat whose son is disabled and needs intensive care. "We cannot let dollars be more important than people!"
The effort by Republicans and some Democrats in the Assembly majority to fully restore a $90 million cut in aid failed. But it was followed by a rare standing ovation, and hugs by colleagues for Weisenberg, who was in tears.h/t: HP