Updated 03/04/2013 09:19 PM
Funding cuts could be detrimental to NYSARC
Businesses and organizations across the state are getting nervous as they're looking through the Governor's proposed budget for the upcoming year. NYSARC, a non-profit agency which provides assistance for people with developmental disabilities, could end up seeing a six percent cut in state funding. As YNN's Cara Thomas reports, with a cut like that, services and programs will take a major hit.
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ONEIDA, N.Y. -- Without NYSARC, Esther Zagart's life would look much different than it does today.
"Doing nothing. Sitting home, watching TV, being on the computer all the time. Doing the same thing I was doing before. Nothing," she said.
Zagart joined the Madison-Cortland chapter of the ARC more than 13 years ago. She was unemployed and suffered from many different medical conditions. But with help from mentors at the ARC, Zagart's life is looking up.
She said, "I'm getting along with all my people. I made a lot of friends."
But those services and programs that have helped Zagart may not be around much longer, due to a possible six percent cut in state funding for nonprofit organizations that assist people with developmental disabilities. But it's not just state funds these programs could be losing.
Raymond Lewandowski, Executive Director of the Madison-Cortland NYSARC, explains, "For every state dollar put into the pot that provides services for people is matched by one dollar from the feds. If the state drops it's commitment by $120 million, we don't get that extra buck, so we feel the pain twice as much."
These kinds of funding decreases aren't new to NYSARC. Over the past three years, the organization has endured nearly $350 million in cuts. And with more cuts on the way, officials worry about the future of their clients.
"It could affect their services, the programs they participate in, the staff members that take care of them and I'm not sure how we can cut one million point one dollars out of this agency," says Lewandowski.
Zagart said, "We've got to fight for our rights and for our health and needs. We've just got to keep on fighting and fighting and fighting and we're gonna win. One way or another, we're going to win."
NYSARC officials say without their program, many high needs clients won't receive they help they deserve and won't have anyone else to turn to.