There's strong bipartisan support among the region's state delegation for paying a living wage to Direct Support Professionals---the people responsible for caring for society's most vulnerable individuals. A Tuesday rally to build support for the pay raise drew a wide array of local dignitaries, including former Congressman Tom Reynolds.
The #bFair2DirectCare campaign was launched to give voice to the 128,000 people across New York with developmental disabilities who often cannot speak for themselves. The goal is to remind Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature that non-profit agency workers are agents of the state who deserve a living wage.
Based on the enthusiasm at the rally at the Buffalo Museum of Science, there's ample support for the campaign.
"There's high turnover. People can't afford to stay in their chosen career," said Reynolds, whose son has developmental disabilities.
"We need to be fair to direct care!"
According to Reynolds, it's been eight years since the workers' last raise.
Advocates are seeking a $45 million increase in the upcoming state budget. Nine Senators and Assembly members from the local delegation, both Democrat and Republican, have come out in support of the measure.
Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes told the crowd that lawmakers will "juggle the budget" to pay for the wage increase.