Independent Living Honors Skoufis on Behalf of Those with Disabilities

Originally published in The Newburgh News

New York Senator Skoufis with Kathy Passineau, William Sestrom, and Independent Living, Inc. President & Chief Executive Officer Doug Hovey. (Photo provided by Independent Living)

Independent Living, a Newburgh-based organization serving people with disabilities across the Mid-Hudson region, has honored New York State Senator James Skoufis with an award for legislative leadership. Skoufis, a former disabilities task force chair when he served in the Assembly, accepted the award at the organization’s 35th anniversary celebration earlier this month.

“President/CEO Doug Hovey and his entire team are one of the premier advocacy groups for folks with disabilities in New York State, and it’s been a true privilege to fight alongside them,” said Skoufis. “I am honored to receive this award for my continued efforts in the state legislature and look forward to partnering with them in the years ahead on even more quality-of-life issues impacting our disabilities community.”

In 2022, Skoufis introduced a bill (S.1836) creating an agency-level Chief Disabilities Officer position within state government. That bill was ultimately signed into law. Skoufis was also on the front lines of the Fair Pay for Homecare movement, advancing a $3 per hour pay raise for New York’s homecare workforce. 

He has also sponsored legislation to establish a minimum staffing goal for people with disabilities within state employment (S.1629), to eliminate exemptions that keep employees with disabilities from earning the minimum wage (S.1828), to create Medicaid funding parity for those receiving residential day services (S.1846), to provide free access to public campsites and outdoor recreation spaces to those requiring use of a wheelchair (S.1833), to provide early dyslexia screening and supportive instruction for New York’s students (S.7418), and much more.