As past president of the Friends of Sunmount, and as stepfather to one of the residents of the state-run Sports Avenue home who is also a partaker of the day treatment program at the SLNYSARC center in Norwood, I am well aware of the cuts SLNYSARC has, and will experience. Add these cuts to the state programs for the developmentally disabled over the past two years and a bleak picture emerges.
These proposed cuts as advocated by the governor in his budget are intolerable. I urge our elected officials to buck and resist the governor on this issue. It will be up these elected members of the Assembly and Senate to show some backbone on this issue and not to be led up a primrose path of acquiescence.
The governor needs to be reminded that Sen. Robert F. Kennedy had the foresight to turn the Sunmount Veterans Hospital at Tupper Lake into a facility for the developmentally disabled in the mid-1960s. Sunmount was a godsend for our family and served its purpose at the time.
Parents of developmentally disabled founded NYSSARC because they recognized that small was better. Sunmount and the accompanying state agencies came to realize the benefits of decentralization. Parents had a visionary hand in the decentralization process. These founding members of NYSARC need to be remembered and thanked. I am particularly thinking of the late Kate Klein and her family members. The governors proposed budget is quite frankly disrespectful to those parents, the current and past staffs, and most importantly the developmentally disabled.
The governor needs to also be reminded that the Willowbrook facility became a nightmare for its residents. I want to remind the governor that developmentally disabled people need small facilities and a staff that is almost one on one.
Here is further information about these proposed cuts.
This years state budget contains a 6 percent across-the-board cut to agencies such as NYSARC that provide helping services to citizens that the state does not directly serve.
St. Lawrence NYSARC stands to lose another $1.3 million in support from New York state on top of the substantial cuts they have sustained in recent years.
With thanks and appreciation for NYSARC administrators and staff and with the hope and expectation that the governors proposed budget will be modified.
Joseph M. Liotta