An unprecedented group of human service advocates are urging Governor
Cuomo and the Legislature to support state funding for not for profit
agencies to be able to help pay the increasing cost of the minimum wage.
The increase in the minimum wage will greatly impact the ability of not for
profit agencies to recruit and retain quality staff. These staff represent
the backbone of the community safety net.

Unprecedented Coalition Supports Minimum Wage, Calls For State Funding

Contact: *Bryan O’Malley, 518-495-2181  (Cell)

Jennifer Burner Barden, 321-501-6016 (Cell)
646-676-4486  (Office)

An unprecedented group of health, behavioral health, developmental
disability providers, in addition to human services agencies throughout the
state, today called on the Legislature to use recently identified
additional revenues to help pay for the Governor’s proposed minimum wage
increase for the Medicaid and human service agencies that rely on state
assistance to provide services critical to all New Yorkers. These groups,
listed at the end of this release, support the wage increase, but stress
the importance of investment in funding to support it. Last week, the
Assembly and Senate agreed that there was an additional half a billion
dollars in state revenue, which this group argues should be used to pay for
this increase.

The groups argued that the Governor’s minimum wage proposal was critical to
being able to recruit and retain a high quality workforce. Funding to pay
for the increase, as well as a plan to maintain that funding, is the
responsibility of the State and must be supported to ensure the sector
government relies on to meet a variety of human needs throughout the state,
can continue to provide the jobs and services critical to success.

The health and human service industries are the driving force behind our
economy. The day care centers and after-school programs let parents work,
knowing that their children are safe. Hospitals serve as economic engines
for our communities while protecting its health and providing critical
services when people most need them. Home care, developmental disability,
and behavioral health providers aid our parents, children and loved ones,
allowing them to live fulfilling lives in the community. Since this
workforce is almost completely funded by the State, it is the
responsibility of the State to fund the increase, just as they have for
direct State employees and SUNY workers.

“New Yorkers’ rely on the services we deliver. Whether for themselves,
their children, their parents or their loved ones, New York’s health care
providers and human service providers are providing the services that make
our State function. We are as critical to the operation of New York on a
day-to-day basis as its roads and bridges. The Governor and Legislature
must recognize that without investing in this human infrastructure, it too
will crumble,” said Bryan O’Malley, Executive Director of the Consumer
Directed Personal Assistance Association of New York State.

Toni Lasicki, Executive Director of the Association for Community Living
said, “The Association for Community Living supports workers making a
living wage. However, any increase to the wage must include increases in
state contracts that reflect the change so providers of behavioral health
services can compensate workers and remain competitive in attracting and
retaining a competent workforce to serve some of the most compromised New
York citizens.”

Jennifer March, Executive Director of the Citizen’s Committee for Children
of New York, said, “Increasing New York State’s minimum wage to $15 is a
component of addressing poverty throughout the State. New York’s children
and families are relying on the Governor and the Legislature to include a
phased-in minimum wage that is fully funded for non-profits with state
contracts and those reimbursed by Medicaid in the upcoming State Budget.
Without the funding to support the increased minimum wage, these programs
providing vital services to New Yorkers would likely need to curtail their
services, lay-off staff, increase caseloads, and/or shut their doors.”

“People with disabilities rely on personal attendants every day to help us
eat, bathe, go to work, and live our lives,” said Bruce Darling, CEO of the
Center for Disability Rights. “Agencies that provide consumer directed
personal attendants have had level or reduced reimbursements and increased
overhead costs for years. Without an increase in funding to match the
minimum wage increase, you’re not looking at more workers, you’re looking
at fewer agencies. Fewer agencies means people with disabilities,
especially in rural areas, will be forced into institutions, away from our
families, in violation of our civil right to live in the community.”

“There are 870,000 workers in NYS in the broad human services sector who
work directly under government-funded contracts or provide services
reimbursed by Medicaid funding. Many work for nonprofits providing
essential public services and are effectively indirect government
workers. Nearly half of this workforce—420,000 workers (predominantly women
and people of color)— benefit from an increase in the minimum wage to $15
an hour,” said Ron Deutsch, Executive Director of the Fiscal Policy
Institute. “To ensure continued quality service delivery it is essential
that government funding be increased so that these workers benefit from the
minimum wage increase.”

“The human services sector is an extension of the government in providing
essential government services to promote the well-being of all New Yorkers.
We applaud the Governor for his support of a higher minimum wage in NY and
urge the legislature to make a $15 minimum wage a reality. Even without a
statewide policy change the Governor has the power to ensure the over
800,000 workers who deliver human services on the government’s behalf earn
a living wage by increasing government payment rates to ensure higher wages
for this workforce. Absent a statewide policy change, this would be a solid
step forward in achieving higher wages for a large number of low-income
workers. The Governor has taken great first steps to increase the minimum
wage for State and SUNY workers. The same approach must be taken for human
services workers across New York. We support the enactment of a $15
minimum wage policy and state investment in wage increases and spillover
funding for human services workers,” said Allison Sesso of the Human
Services Council of New York.

“With the enormous changes happening in mental health services in New York
State, there is, more than ever, a great need for a sophisticated and
professional workforce. Without state funding to support increases in the
minimum wage for mental health staff, the ability to recruit and retain a
quality workforce will be greatly hindered,” said Glenn Liebman, CEO of the
Mental Health Association of New York State.

“We have all come together today to urge the Governor and state lawmakers
to ensure that NYS nonprofits can properly serve those we support by
allowing us to attract and retain a quality workforce,” said Harvey
Rosenthal, Executive Director of the New York Association of Psychiatric
Rehabilitation Services.

“In the children’s behavioral health field, the workforce is the most
essential component of the consistent, positive work needed with individual
children,” said Andrea Smyth, Executive Director of the NYS Coalition for
Children’s Behavioral Health. “For children affected by trauma and unable
to develop relationships, our workforce is the ones who make a child feel
valued, supported and capable of developing resiliency. It is difficult to
put value on the consistency of a supportive adult in a child’s life, but
today we are willing to say that the minimum value should be $15 per hour,”
said Smyth.

“HCP and its members agree that home care workers deserve to be paid more,”
said Claudia J. Hammar, President of the New York State Association of
Health Care Providers (HCP). “Home care workers are at the heart of
delivering high quality and compassionate care to tens of thousands of
elderly, chronically ill, and disabled New Yorkers across the State. But
with an industry that is primarily funded by Medicaid, it comes down to
simple math: if government reimbursements do not keep up with our costs, we
cannot continue to provide these services. If the Governor and Legislature
want home care to remain a viable option for New Yorkers in the future,
they have a responsibility to ensure that the State pays its full share of
the increase.”

“As organizations that have long advocated for increased funding to pay
wages to individuals who provide direct supports to people with
disabilities, we are very pleased to see the debate about an increased
minimum wage come to the forefront here in NYS. It is hard to argue that
individuals who provide direct supports to other human beings – especially
individuals with challenging needs – are currently paid wages commensurate
with their responsibilities (e.g. assistance with eating, toileting, and
bathing; communication; administration of medications; support in jobs and
in the community),” said Michael Seereiter, President/CEO of the New York
State Rehabilitation Association. “However, without requisite funding
increases to pay direct support workers wages competitive to other sectors,
like fast food, and comply with an increased minimum wage, these non-profit
organizations will be unable to pay any increased minimum wage or compete
for qualified workers. Much more seriously, vulnerable individuals and
their families that rely upon these services for supports in day-to-day
living will be hurt as many organizations begin to fail, unable to compete
and hire staff to provide these necessary supports.”

“There are significant gaps in services based on a shortage of needed home
care workers that allow a senior in need of assistance to remain in their
own homes. This is true for Medicaid and EISEP, the Office for the Aging’s
in home support for older residents with income above Medicaid limits. An
increase in the minimum wage, and a funding source for human services
agencies that deliver services through a state funding stream, is
critically important to prevent or delay institutionalization.
Additionally, an increase in minimum wage will have a positive later effect
on the worker’s quality of life in retirement, by the resulting increase in
pay used to calculate their own Social Security benefit. The time to act is
now.” Maria Alvarez, Executive Director, New York StateWide Senior Action
Council.

The organizations were statewide groups as well as individual providers,
including the Association for Community Living, Center for Disability
Rights, Citizen’s Committee for Children of New York, Consumer Directed
Personal Assistance Association of New York State, the Federation of
Protestant Welfare Agencies, Fiscal Policy Institute, Human Services
Council, Mental Health Association of New York State, New York Association
of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, New York State Association of
Health Care Providers, New York State Coalition for Children’s Behavioral
Health, New York State Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, New
York State Rehabilitation Association, New York Statewide Senior Action
Council, and the Women’s City Club of New York. All of these groups, and
the programs they offer or represent, rely significantly or entirely on
state Medicaid or human service funds to operate. The groups support a
minimum wage of $15 per hour, but are very concerned that without
additional funding from the state they will face unintended consequences,
including interrupted service delivery, scaled up caseloads, and in some
cases closed their doors all together. Some of these groups had previously
come together under the banner of #15andFunding.

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