Updated 03/14/2013 05:03 AM
Grassroots effort to save Wildwood Programs
A program designed to help support people with learning and developmental disabilities could be spared from major budget cuts proposed by the state. YNN's Vince Gallagher explains.
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LATHAM, N.Y. -- "This advocacy effort, I think, has given people a chance to combat a sense of hopelessness that we have been forgotten in the political process," said Mary Ann Allen, Wildwood Programs Executive Director.
Wildwood has been potentially spared from some major cuts proposed by the state.
"The legislature, both parties, both houses, have stood together to stand up for the disabled," said State Senator Hugh Farley.
Wildwood Programs offers support to individuals with learning and developmental disabilities. A six percent cut to these services would translate to $850,000.
"We want to do more than just restore. We need to make sure that our most in need are taken care of, or what does it say about our society?" asked Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy.
A grassroots effort by family and staff members included a letter to the legislature, which explained what these cuts would mean, among them, staff layoffs and loss of critical services.
Farley said, "The governor feels strongly on this issue, but we're going to modify it and let's hope that we can keep it there. We got members of the Assembly and the Senate saying it should be restored."
While this restoration effort isn't official yet, with both sides of the aisle working together, there's at least renewed hope
"We don't know what the ultimate budget will look like,” Allen said. “We are very hopeful that we will continue to be included in the final agreement."
"We all need to stay together, stay united and keep our advocacy going over the next couple of weeks. By next Friday, I expect to have a successful outcome," said Assemblyman John McDonald.
But to continue to fund programs like Wildwood, some legislators are proposing a more progressive income tax, while others suggest adjusting the revenue currently in the budget.