Updated: 03/19/2014 6:18 PM, Created: 03/19/2014 4:55 PM WNYT.com
By: Bill Lambdin
ALBANY - Members of AARP turned out at the State Capitol Wednesday to put a human face on the IDC budget proposals.
The measures have passed the State Senate, which puts them near the top of the pile of items being bartered behind closed doors as budget items are negotiated.
"For years I have heard in my district far too many seniors that are being forced to make a choice between buying food for their table or filling their prescriptions," said Senator David Valesky (D - Oneida). "It's heart breaking to hear their stories and a choice I don't want any senior in New York State to have to make."
The five Senators, in name Democrats put siding with Republicans for operational control, want to expand prescription drug subsidies for seniors earning up to 100-thousand dollars a year.
They'd freeze senior citizen rent increases for many and establish a consumer advocate who would take on soaring electric and other utility costs.
"It is critically important that during this budget process we allow this issue to be addressed and we create the office of the independent consumer advocate so we can protect, not just seniors, but all working families from these tremendous increases in our energy costs," said Senator Diane Savino (D - Staten Island).
The IDC is also advocating paid family leave. It would provide employees up to $750 a week for six weeks while they were off their jobs dealing with significant family needs. The state would pay the cost initially, then all employees would be required to provide a small mandatory deduction from their earnings to cover the paid leave.