Officials Fight for Budget Money for Disabled

May 10, 2013 Updated May 10, 2013 at 6:47 PM EDT

By WKBW Admin

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May 10, 2013 Updated May 10, 2013 at 6:47 PM EDT

CHEEKTOWAGA (BUFFALO) Local lawmakers are now pressuring the Governor to restore millions of dollars cut out of the budget that would go to services for the disabled. Ninety million dollars dedicated to day programs, job training, and residential options all for those with developmental disabilites was taken out of the State budget, and local officials say it needs to be put back.

It was an emotional plea from Assemblymen Dennis Gabryzak and Michael Kearns in front of many of those who will be most affected if 90 million dollars in budget cuts to services for the disabled goes through.

"If we can find money in the budget to cover some other things that pale in comparison to the importance of what this is about, we can come up with the 90 million dollars to put back for all the needs that you have," Gabryzak said.

Kearns and Gabryzak have co-sponsored legislation along with many fellow legislators, pushing for the complete restoration of all those funds.
During the news conference, Joseph Collen Shaw, who is disabled and lived in an assisted living facility, joined his voice to the cause.

"I feel sad for the Governor because he has no idea what it's like to have someone else put your shoes on and put your pants on one leg at a time. This is why we need the money," Sahw said.

Kearns has a brother with a disability, and says this budget cut is about much more than dollars and cents to those affected.

"What about the families. The families have sacrificed so much over the years. They're taxpayers. They deserve to have this opportunity," Kearns added.

Families like Don O'Brien's. His son is now 54, with a disability, and with nowhere to go if something were to happen to his 80 year old parents.

"We have to find a place for my son where he will be safe and a social environment that's appropriate. And there's just no places available, and this cutting the problem just exacerbate the problem," O'Brien said.

That 90 million dollars comes from the State budget, but it is also matched by federal funds, meaning if the cuts are made it could mean 180 million dollars less in funding for the disabled, taking affect as early as next month.