Non-profit agencies across New York were dealt a sharp blow recently by an announced 6 percent cut in state aid across the board by Governor Andrew Cuomo, effectively putting several vital community programs in jeopardy.
Robert McGuire, executive director of United Cerebral Palsy of Nassau County (UCPN), said he had heard rumblings that the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services was gearing up to withdraw as much as $1.1 billion in income from New York State. UCPN has a local day habilitation center on 1895 Wantagh Ave.
“The federal government felt they were overcompensating the state for their Medicaid programs,” he said. “They felt that they were not applying some of that money towards their Medicaid programs...that it was used in a way that the government thought was inappropriate.”
The rumors were soon proven true, and within days of the announcement, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proclaimed that the lost revenue would be made up by initiating a 6 percent cut in state aid to non-profit agencies across the board beginning April 1.
According to McGuire, these organizations received no benefit from the funds the government now wants back.
“Our agency specifically would lose about $2 million in funds per year,” he said. “That is on top of the fact that non-profits in New York in the last three years have had a 9 percent reduction in reimbursement, totaling $350 million.”
UCPN provides schooling and services to up to approximately 2,000 individuals with developmental disabilities every year, and a budget cut of that magnitude would negatively affect the agency as a whole, McGuire said.
“We will have to take a look at all of our programs and make decisions about what to maintain, and take a look at benefits, time off, and health insurance in order to make up for this devastating cut,” he said. “We will not take it on the backs of staff...they haven’t had a raise in three years, and our staff continues to exhibit caring, terrific human kindness day in and out, and I feel that, at some point, the staff can’t afford to work here if they aren’t compensated for it.”
To combat the proposed cuts, McGuire said that UCPN is taking an aggressive grassroots approach.
A major initiative against the cuts held at UCPN this week was a massive two-day letter writing campaign which, according to Pat Quinn, head of community outreach at UCPN, has generated a 10,000 letters of prostest, all destined to land on the desk of Gov. Cuomo.
“Our large conference room was turned into kind of a war zone,” she said.
Others were sent to Nassau County assemblymembers, community leaders, etc.
“I was here one night until 8 p.m., and the parents of one of our members showed up with their signed letters in the dark and freezing cold,” Quinn said. “They were there because their daughter, who has a disability, had urged them to the point of being in tears because it was so important to her...I thought that was incredible.”
To find out more about what you can do to help UCPN in light of these budget cuts, click here.