Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Friday vetoed a bill that would have studied advocates’ concerns that caregivers for disabled New Yorkers are understaffed, underpaid and overworked and that’s leading to spikes in abuse, neglect and deaths of some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens.
The bill overwhelmingly passed in the Legislature this year would have required the state to identify the causes of what its sponsors called “high vacancy rates and high turnover rates” in staff at facilities caring for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The bill seeks to improve pay and reduce double shifts to “maintain a quality workforce and reverse the trend toward increased vacancies and turnover in the direct support professional field,” according to the bill.
Cuomo said in his veto message that his administration is already studying staffing needs, so the measure isn’t necessary. Cuomo also said the study called for in the legislation would be done before the state’s new minimum wage is effective, which could make a report’s findings outdated.
The bill was pushed by former Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach) who sponsored many bills before his retirement to support the disabled and their families. He also cares for his own disabled adult son.
“It’s a crisis situation of people being overworked, understaffed and jeopardizing the safety of 30,000 people,” Weisenberg said in an interview Friday. “We have a critical issue. Not only is there going to be more abuse and neglect, but we will have more deaths.”
Several cases of abuse and neglect of disabled people in the state’s care noted staffing that often includes double shifts as a contributing factor.