There are many ways to show your support for a human services COLA. I know that many of you made phone calls the last several days. Others have walked the halls advocating with legislators to support a COLA. The way Assemblymember Aileen Gunther decided to show her support was by holding a press conference with her fellow Assembly members highlighting the need for the COLA It was a very powerful moment and we thank her and her colleagues for their unyielding support.

 Raises for direct care workers remain up for debate in budget
· David Lombardo

· 3 mins ago

· Tags:Aileen Gunther

Assembly members on both sides of the aisle rallied in the Capitol on Wednesday morning to highlight their support for increased human services funding in the final budget deal due at the end of the month.

The members touted the chamber’s one-house budget, which reinstated a 2.9 percent cost of living adjustment for workers in the human services sector that was left out of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget and added a 2 percent raise for direct care workers employed in the mental health and developmental disabilities fields.

“They earned every cent of this raise, and probably a hell of a lot more,” said Assemblyman Aileen Gunther, chair of the Assembly’s Mental Hygiene Committee.

She said the governor’s proposal to leave out the COLA would exacerbate the staffing shortage in New York. “People have passion for the work, but they have to be able to survive in the world that we live in,” Gunther said.

The Assembly’s proposals would cost an additional $198.5 million, according to a press release.

The governor’s budget memo says deferring the COLA is necessary because of the $142 million in savings that would be realized. An increase was also put off in last year’s budget.

Gunther said there are “other things that aren’t as important” in the state’s $174 billion spending plan, and identified economic development incentives as an area where they could “shave” off some spending to afford raises for workers. “I could get a list if I went through the budget,” she added.

There is some speculation that Cuomo’s delay of the COLA was a negotiating ploy that would make state lawmakers “buy back” the program at the expense of other priorities. “It’s kind of like a silly game,” Gunther said.

The proposal from Senate Democrats would also start implementation of the COLA in 2020. “The Senate is also committed to continuing the agreed-upon 3.25% raises for direct care workers,” reads the chamber’s budget resolution.

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