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Gabryszak: Assembly Budget Restores Funding to Vital Senior and Youth Programs | Community Spirit

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Gabryszak: Assembly Budget Restores Funding to Vital Senior and Youth Programs
Gabryszak: Assembly Budget Restores Funding to Vital Senior and Youth Programs

As the state moves toward closing the $10 billion budget shortfall, I helped pass an Assembly budget plan that clears the deficit, addresses critical budget issues and restores essential funding for programs that assist our elderly and young adult communities during this economic downturn.

 

We all understand that to balance the budget we need to cut state spending, but those cuts should be carried out responsibly and not at the expense of our seniors. The Assembly budget restores $34 million in executive budget cuts to Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (EPIC), ensuring that the 26,649 seniors in Erie County enrolled in the program have continued access to quality and affordable health care. In addition, the Assembly rejects the executive proposal to force all EPIC participants, regardless of financial hardship, to join a Medicare Part D drug plan. Instead, our budget restores $2.8 million for “wraparound” coverage for prescription drugs not covered by Medicare, as well as state payment assistance for Part D premiums and deductibles. By restoring this essential funding, we will save seniors up to $1,000 or more annually, so they aren’t forced to choose between their prescriptions or putting food on the table.[1]

 

The executive budget not only includes devastating cuts to our seniors, but massive cuts to programs that assist our children too. In 2010, there were 1,297 young adults that participated in the Summer Youth Employment Program in Erie County. This program has played an important role in helping young people find entry-level employment. To help continue this effort, the Assembly budget restores $36.3 million – over 50 percent – of executive budget cuts to funding for employment and training programs, including $15.5 million for the summer employment program. It’s so important that we keep our children continually learning during the summer months, by providing them with constructive opportunities to help better prepare them for the future.

 

With the passage of the Assembly’s state budget plan, we can now move forward with conference committees to iron out budget differences with our colleagues in the Senate. As we approach the April 1 deadline, these conference committees move the budget process along and promote transparency and accountability with lawmakers working to craft a fiscally responsible budget. During these committee meetings, I will make sure that the best interests of my constituents are not compromised in the final budget. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate, so we can come together and produce an on-time, balanced budget that doesn’t overburden hardworking Erie County families.

 


[1] New York StateWide Senior Action Council,  www.nysenior.org/?p=988

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