Central New York State Senator John Mannion is heading into 2022 with a steadfast focus on disability issues and legislation. Mannion serves as Chair of the newly established Senate Committee on Disability. He says one bill he’s planning to work on next legislative session addresses the stagnant funding and unsustainable reimbursement rates for organizations that serve people with disabilities. Another would encourage and support programs to employ members of the disabled community.
“I am working with some assembly members to advance bills that are going to, I guess I would say, level the playing field and tap into this community to a greater degree," said Mannion. "Because we really need people who have a disability to be working. We know that it’s enriching and rewarding. But also, we see that there are many employers out there who have made this a priority, and there’s great successes out there.”
Governor Kathy Hochul did veto a bill of his that would have provided funding parity for special education programs in the final days of 2021. Mannion said in a statement on Twitter he believes the veto is a temporary setback, and they will be able to work with the Governor to find a solution to the issue. Hochul has since signaled that she plans to increase funding for special education programs by $240 million.
Though the Governor’s full budget and state revenue numbers have not been released, Mannion said he’s overall optimistic based off of some of the early numbers he’s seen. He said people working on the ground are getting through to Governor Hochul, making some long standing issues more of a priority.
"I think she’s going to support them because it’s the right thing to do. And it has to be done because some of these systems are really at a breaking point, including when it comes to elder care or disability care. And I don’t think it’s going to be done because it’s an election year, and we have that concern."
The Legislature has yet to finalize its coronavirus policies for lawmakers. Mannion hopes there is a hybrid option for he and his colleagues again in the new year.
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