ALBANY, NY (WRGB) — Advocates, state lawmakers, and the New York State Public Employees Federation are calling for a boost in funding for disability service providers.
They say this crisis is man-made and that they've been calling for help for years.
Randi DiAntonio, Vice President of the New York State Public Employees Federation, says "We are outraged by the ten years of decimation and cuts to our service system."
Melanie Hecker is an autistic adult who recently received her degree from the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy.
She credits her success to the support she received from her direct service providers.
Hecker says, "These professionals provide invaluable services to people like me...helping us be independent, helping us be in our communities, helping us live the best lives that we can."
The rally was held prior to a NYS Senate Standing Committee on Disabilities hearing.
Senator John W. Mannion (D-Geddes,) Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Disabilities, says "We have to change the mindset in New York State...and Governor Hochul, she is working with people. We've seen already that she's working and she's listening. She's listening to leaders, she's listening to people with boots on the ground, and we ask her to listen to us today. Save our services! Save our services!"
Mannion says direct service providers deserve to make more than a minimum wage.
He's calling for $500 million in state funding.