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Deal reached to restore funds for developmentally disabled

Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach), left, joined by

Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach), left, joined by Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), center, and New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, speaks during a news conference in Albany. (June 23, 2008) (Credit: AP )

Money for programs for the developmentally disabled will be effectively restored under a tentative agreement reached by lawmakers, Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg said Thursday.

Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) said a $90 million cut enacted in the state budget will be reversed, either through management efficiencies or an influx of cash. He said Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has agreed to the changes and the state Legislature will act on a bill next week, the final week of the legislative session.

 “We’ve finalized an acceptable agreement with the governor,” said Weisenberg, an outspoken advocate who has a 55-year-old disabled son who needs intensive care. “This is so big for Long Island, I can’t tell you.”

An aide to the governor confirmed the agreement.

“The administration has worked closely with all stakeholders to ensure that the savings will not impact services,” Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said. “We agreed that if the savings plan developed by the working group does not equal $90 million, that the balance will be appropriated during this budget year.”

Cuomo and lawmakers, as part of the 2013-14 budget enacted in March, cut $90 million from the program that cares for developmentally disabled youths and adults in group homes. The reductions, which primarily impact nonprofit service providers, were forced because New York owes the federal government about $3 billion for overcharging Medicaid for decades. Cuomo said then he wanted the decrease to come from administrative costs, not direct care.

Under a bill amended by Weisenberg Thursday, a previously established working group will come up with savings recommendations without impacting programs such as adult day care. If the savings fall short of $90 million, state funds will be used to make up the difference.

Weisenberg said his efforts were bolstered by the fact that 146 of 147 Assembly members, regardless of political party, had signed on as bill co-sponsors, with only Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) missing.

Weisenberg delivered an emotional speech on the Assembly floor in March, arguing against the cuts. As Weisenberg reached a tear-filled conclusion, he received a standing ovation from his colleagues.

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