Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this evening that he signed legislation to restore $90 million in funding for the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities. The law amends the state budget, which called for cutting OPWDD’s budget $90 million as a result of a $1.1 billion federal aid reduction.
The governor’s amended budget proposal cut $120 million—6 percent—from the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, but lawmakers restored $30 million in the final budget, which was adopted in late March. Providers would have lost $120 million in federal matching funds for Medicaid, a health-care program for the poor and disabled. There was a lot of opposition to the cuts, particularly from nonprofit agencies and families of people with disabilities, during and after the budget was adopted. Lawmakers passed a bill in June to add back the remaining $90 million.
Funding for the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities was restored by establishing a work group that developed a plan to save $40 million through a series of audits, according to the Cuomo administration. Additional savings of $50 million will come from program reductions over time. The new law ensures that if the plan fails to achieve the full savings, the state will provide $90 million to cover the agency and Medicaid rate shortfalls, Cuomo said.
“This new law is another step in our work to improve services and protections for New Yorkers with developmental disabilities,” Cuomo said in a statement. “The State is committed to upholding the toughest standards and practices in the nation to care for our most vulnerable citizens, and I am pleased to sign this bill into law to restore funding to OPWDD after our federal aid was reduced.”
The governor faces a deadline to sign or reject 21 pieces of legislation today, according to Gannett’s Albany Bureau. Another bill he signed would require boaters born after May 1996 to take an eight-hour boating safety course. It was introduced following the death of Bryan Johnson, a 26-year-old Ossining resident who drowned in a boating accident last year.
A third bill he signed bans the sale of cough suppressants like NyQuil and Robitussin to those under 18. The law targets over-the-counter drugs with dextromethorphan—DXM—which is found in certain cold medicines but can cause hallucinations if taken in high doses.
The governor faces a Saturday deadline to act on 46 other bills. Among those measures is a bill banning the sale of novelty lighters and another that would restrict custody rights for attackers who conceive a child through sexual assault.
The reason for the reductions in the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities Budget was the federal government found that New York had been reimbursed for more than 20 years at rates that were higher than the cost of providing services to people with developmental disabilities. As a result, it cut Medicaid funding by $1.1 billion. The state planned to make up the loss through adjustments to Medicaid and use of other resources.
The cuts would have affected 130,000 people with developmental disabilities.