Tonawanda, NY- Tears and frustration pour from Sherry Cordero as she considers future plans for her 21 year old daughter Gianna who developed cerebral palsy. After leaving Kenmore East High School this June, she was hoping to place her in a so-called "day-hab" program where developmentally disabled individuals can be watched over while they socialize and perform certain tasks.
But Cordero says a caseworker just informed her that a promised slot in such a program is not available because of Governor Cuomo's newly approved budget plan. It originally cut $120 million dollars in state funding for such programs. $30 Million in funding was put back. But the other $90 million is gone. So Sherry says there is no program available for her daughter. Cordero says "That is devastating for kids like Gianna. She's not the only one in this community. There are a lotta kids like her and they need to be together. They need to have a place to go where they're safe and they're still productive and loving life."
This particular cut hits hard and hits home for some lawmakers. A Republican amendment to restore the $90 million was turned back in the assembly last night. State Assemblyman David DiPietro of East Aurora says "If we can't help these people the rest of the budget means nothing. We have to help our most needy and we had a chance lasxt night...and in five minutes we could have done it."
Assemblyman Michael Kearns of South Buffalo, who is a Democrat, voted with the GOP for that restoration measure. He says "This is unconscionable what was was done. My brother who over 50 years has been in state care...I see this on a firsthand basis of what my family has gone through."
But beyond politics...Sherry still worries about her daughter and notes "She just can't stay with us all day long and watch TV...what does she do when you're disabled."
The Governor's Press Office did respond by saying these cuts are tied to actual cuts that came down from Washington. They contend that federal officials told the state it was overbilling for such programs for 20 years.
The Governor feels administrators' salaries and overhead at these service agencies can be reviewed and cut before there is a direct impact on actual programs for the disabled.