Care Workers Across State Rally for Wage Hike

Want Increase In State Budget, Despite Looming Deficit

Dave Debo
December 19, 2017 - 12:45 pm

WBEN Photo/Dave Debo


(WBEN) Workers at the various private agencies that provide state services for the disabled held two rallies across New York, including one in Buffalo Tuesday to spotlight the need for a wage hike in the funding the state sends on from Medicaid.

Several legislators joined with the clients and providers from agencies like Aspire and People Inc. to press the state to pass through adequate raises that were included in last year's budget, and to continue to increase funding in the 2018 spending plan that is expected to be released by Gov. Cuomo on January 3.

The rallies were held at the Buffalo Museum of Science and at Nassau Community College’s College Center Building, as part of a statewide push to “spin up” the living wage funding state leaders had started to provide in the 2017-18 state budget approved in April.

At issue is the funding the state provides non-profits that support people with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other disabilities from which they can pay salaries.

“I take great pride and compassion in the services that I provide to my individuals, " said Ann Marie Walker, an aide with People Inc. (pictured at top of page) "... Unfortunately, I see too many of my colleagues leave for better paying jobs because we don’t make a wage you can live on. I thank the Governor and the Legislature for increasing our pay last year but I am asking they do more in this budget.”

Agencies expect to face increased pressure when the state minimum wage rises to $11/hr at the end of 2017, and because their budgets are funded 90 percent by Medicaid, they must lobby the state said Kevin Horrigan, a vice president at People Inc.

Several state officials support the hike, despite a budget deficit that by some estimates could be $4 billion.

"I don't know how we will get it done, but we will get it done, "said Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes.

Stokes was joined at the rally by Sen. Chris Jacobs (R-Buffalo), Sen.Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo), Sen. Rob Ort ( R- N.Tonawanda) and Assemblywoman Monica Wallace (D-Cheektowaga), each pledging their support



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