ALBANY, N.Y. — The Cuomo administration has proposed keeping pay flat for the sixth straight year for caretakers of the disabled and others at state-funded nonprofits.
Most Assembly members, in response, have signed a letter calling for the 2 percent cost-of-living increase in the final negotiated budget for the next fiscal year. They say that continuing the already low pay forces many staff to work unsafe amounts of overtime or take second jobs.
Advocates say that also erodes care for the vulnerable people in the nonprofits' group homes and programs because of attrition and turnover.
"In a perfect world people should get a raise when they deserve a raise. It's not a perfect world. It's not a perfect economy," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday. "We're trying to reduce costs for the state. We're trying to spur the economy. Would it be nice if everybody got a raise every year? Yes."
The administration estimates saving $76 million by deferring the 2 percent increase for human services workers, part of its effort to keep overall state spending increases annually below 2 percent. It will affect about 5,200 community-based programs operated by nonprofits in the statewide service system for mental hygiene, according to the Budget Division.
The administration's longer-term financial plan currently assumes adding raises the following three years.
Oh, but I'm sure there will be an issue next year too and the raises Cuomo planned for in next year's budget will have to be cancelled as well.
How bad is it for these workers?
Allison Sesso, deputy executive director of the Human Services Council, said they don't know how many workers are affected statewide, but it's in the thousands and ranges from cooks to social workers in a profession where few people make more than $40,000 a year.
Tiffany Williams, 34, a housing specialist for Barrier Free Living, which finds housing for disabled clients in New York City, said she's been working there 10 years, had one raise in the last five years and makes $39,000 before taxes. Between helping clients, paperwork and limited staffing, she said work weeks can go 80 hours. "I'm in a rented room. I cannot afford an apartment. ConEd went up 20 percent. I try to let my clients know I'm going through the same thing."
The truth is, Cuomo cares nothing for these people - either the disabled and elderly getting the care or the human services workers taking care of them.
All he cares about is making sure his rich friends and donors get tax cuts so that he can run on that platform in 2016.