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Old 01-28-2016, 05:07 PM
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Default Minimum Wage Debate for PAs in NYS

Minimum Wage Debate in NYS
Following Executive action to increase the minimum wage for fast food
workers over the summer and state employees this past fall, as part of the
2016-17 SFY Executive Budget Proposal, the Governor proposed a statewide
minimum wage increase to $15 over the next several years. Unfortunately,
the Governor's budget proposal included only a .2% cost of living
adjustment (approximately $.03 per hour) - significantly less than would
be necessary to maintain any degree of competitiveness with the fast food
sector or comply with the first phase of the minimum wage increase. The
current starting wage within the developmental disabilities field is $9.62
per hour to $10.78 per hour, depending on location in the state. Yet,
within the upcoming SFY, the Governor proposes to increase the minimum
wage $3.00 (to $12.00 per hour) in NYC and $1.75 (to $10.75 per hour)
throughout the rest of the state - but includes essentially no money in
the budget to increase funding for services to people with disabilities
delivered by non-profit provider organizations. The Governor's proposal -
which includes essentially no new funding - has left much of the
disability community bewildered as to how the State can possible uphold
its statutory obligations around supporting individuals with disabilities.

Like many other non-profit sectors, the disability services sector is
heavily dependent on public funding for the provision of services and
supports. Our services are almost exclusively publicly-funded and there
are no alternative sources of funding by which we can increase wages. We
can't raise our prices or otherwise substantially increase our revenue, so
an unfunded wage mandate means cutting staff, accepting less qualified
applicants, reducing the amount of support we provide for each person,
and/or facing insolvency.

A joint publication from The Alliance of Long Island Agencies for Persons
with Developmental Disabilities, Cerebral Palsy Associations of NYS,
DDAWNY, IAC, NYSACRA, NYSARC and NYSRA titled In Supporting People with
Developmental Disabilities: The Impact of Low Wages and the Minimum Wage
Debate on the Direct Support Professional Workforce examines this issue
while also expressing the need for funding in New York's 2016-17 budget
for direct support professionals - funding, that would provide equivalent
percentage increases to those provided in the fast food industry.

Early in January, NYSRA and NYSACRA testified at a public hearing held by
NYS Senator Jack Martins, Chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, to
examine the overall impact of increasing the statewide minimum wage to $15
an hour would have on workers, employers and the state as a whole. NYSRA
and NYSACRA were the only organizations testifying on behalf of non-profit
disability service providing organizations and individuals with
disabilities in New York State, but carried the collective sentiments of
other colleague organizations. Our testimony can be found on NYSRA's
website.

This is a defining moment for the field of disability services in NYS.
The consequences of failing to fund agencies providing disability services
this year that will have to comply with an increased minimum wage and
compete for qualified employees with other sectors that have higher
mandated compensation rates, cannot be understated. Systemic failure will
begin as provider organizations - which are already fiscally stressed by
State funding policy changes - begin to fail, and individuals with
disabilities and their families suffer through lack of support in eating,
toileting, bathing, communicating, getting necessary medications, working,
and participating in their community.

As the Governor and legislators begin negotiations over the $15 minimum
wage proposal as part of the state budget, we ask that you join our
collaborative advocacy efforts on this pressing issue by making calls to
the Governor and your individual senate and assembly legislators.
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