Legislation helps Lexington, Liberty avoid funding reduction

New York state officials said Friday legislation was approved that will restore funding cut from the state budget for developmentally disabled programs.

The new state budget contained a $90 million reduction in aid statewide for programs that help the disabled through the state Office for People with Developmental?Disabilities.

Lexington Center in?Fulton?County and Liberty?Enterprises in Montgomery?County?- the local chapters of NYSARC that support people with disabilities – would have been directly affected by the cut.

However, the Assembly and state Senate passed legislation on a process to restore the $90 million in funding to the OPDD, according to a news release from Liberty.

A proposed 6-percent cut in funding to the non-profit providers was avoided, the release said, which would have cost Liberty about $2.3 million.

“Restoration of these cuts is not only crucial to Liberty, but to all agencies who support individuals with developmental disabilities,” Mike Decker, Liberty’s chief executive officer, said in the release.

Lexington Executive Director Shaloni Winston previously estimated the cuts would cost Lexington about $3.7 million.

Wally Hart, Lexington’s division director for business and community development, said because of the legislation, Lexington will not have any funding cut.

However, Hart said some cost saving measures will be taken.

Hart said Gov. Andrew Cuomo is asking groups to bring administrative costs to below 15 percent of their total budgets.

According to Hart, Lexington’s total administrative costs are roughly 8 percent of its total budget.

Hart said the $90 million gap still needs to be closed. Small administrative cost cuts and audits will help close the budget, he said.

Hart said audits done for Lexington had given the service a clean bill of health with no inefficiencies.

However, Hart said, the agency will continue to look for further inefficiencies to keep the service safe.

Hart said this issue may creep up again in further budgets, with the state having less funds to give out.

“The funding that is out there is being squeezed from the federal government,” Hart said.

Lexington also looks after six homes in Albany County and will continue running them, Hart said.

Cuomo had proposed a $120 million cut in the 2013-14 budget to the state Office for People With Developmental Disabilities’ program, which cares for developmentally disabled youths and adults in group homes.

The $120 million was reduced to $90 million after a previous effort by Republicans and some Democrats in the Assembly majority to restore the funding failed.

The cut was proposed after a $500 million budget gap was created due to a reduction in what the federal government will pay the state to care for the developmentally disabled under Medicaid.

Federal officials recently concluded the state was being reimbursed too much for some Medicaid costs.