Survey for Candidate Forum: At The Strong on 10-13-16

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Louise Slaughter for Congress 

1. What will you do to support the Disability Integration Act?

I was proud to be one of the first cosponsors of the Disability Integration Act when it was introduced in the House of Representatives.  I will continue to work with my colleagues and use my position as Ranking Member on the Rules Committee to see this critical piece of legislation advance in the House.

2. Will you support the TIME Act?

I am a proud cosponsor of the TIME Act.

3. What would you do to expand access to affordable and accessible transportation for people with disabilities, especially those who live in rural areas?

I will continue to support funding for public transportation so that local transit agencies can provide adequate paratransit options.

4. What will you do to ensure that ridesharing companies are nondiscriminatory, and accessible to ALL people with disabilities?

I will continue to support the Americans’ with Disabilities Act and its requirements that transportation providers – ridesharing companies included – offer equal access to all users.

5. Will you cosponsor and advocate for passage of H.R. 3260, the Inclusive Home Design Act, requiring that all publicly funded, newly constructed, single family homes have one no-step entrance, a first floor bathroom, and 32 inch clearance in internal doorways?

Yes

6. If elected, will you sponsor a bill for Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids to have access to sign language in schools?

Yes

7. What are you doing to make sure qualified people with disabilities will be a part of your political team and, if elected, as part of your administration?

As a member of the House of Representatives, I do not have a direct role in the hiring and staffing decisions of the executive branch, but I do support having the federal workforce, including senior administration officials, reflect the diversity of the people they represent.

 

Joe Robach for NYS Senate

1. If elected, what will you do to ensure that people with disabilities in New York nursing facilities who do not meet HUD’s definition of homelessness, but are nonetheless homeless, receive access to housing vouchers/programs so that they may live in the community?

I will support legislation (S7247) that establishes an independent office dedicated to addressing the community integration needs of people with disabilities. The office would bring together the independent living centers from the state education department, access to home program from homes and community renewal, the technology-related assistance for individuals with disabilities program from the justice center for the protection of people with special needs and community integration programs from the department of health. It would also assume coordination of the most integrated setting coordinating council currently under the auspices of the office for people with developmental disabilities.

2. Would you support statewide Visibility legislation that would require all publicly funded, newly constructed single family homes to have at least one no-step entrance, a first floor bathroom and 36 inch clearance passage for all main floor internal doorways?

Yes

3. Would you support legislation that reverses the effects of this incentive by the creation of a high needs community rate cell to incentivize managed care plans to provide services and supports to people with significant disabilities in the community?

Yes

4. Do you support the ability of superintendents to grant a diploma (not a certificate of completion) to students who have tried and failed to pass the ELA Regents Exam but have obtained all the credits need to graduate?

Yes

5. What is your plan to promote independent living for seniors and people with disabilities and ensure Olmstead compliance within New York State?

Senate Republicans have introduced legislation (S7247) that outlines a plan to ensure that New York residents with disabilities receive the necessary support and services without being forced into institutions. The bill establishes the Office of Community Living to advocate on behalf of persons with disabilities and assure that persons with disabilities are afforded the opportunity to exercise all of the rights and responsibilities accorded to citizens of the state of New York and to

promote and fund services that assist persons with disabilities to live independently in their home communities.

6. If elected, how will you support appropriate funding for paratransit services?

As Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, I will continue to support legislation (S5556), that provides easier access to paratransit transportation and look forward to working with you during next year’s budget process to provide the levels of funding necessary to maintain these services. This legislation has passed the Senate the past two years.

7. Will you help pass legislation that states that NYS will no longer contract with companies who utilize the 14(c) certificate?

For many people, they should earn minimum wage, the same as the people they compete with for jobs. However, some individuals need to work in closed shops where compensation is different. Forcing all people into the same category could result in individuals losing their jobs. I believe in mainstreaming as much as possible. We must work to ensure that all people are treated with dignity, respect and fair compensation whenever possible.

 

Tom Casey for NYS Senate

1. If elected, what will you do to ensure that people with disabilities in New York nursing facilities who do not meet HUD’s definition of homelessness, but are nonetheless homeless, receive access to housing vouchers/programs so that they may live in the community?

 I would lobby our congressional representatives for a change in the definition of “homelessness” and investigate where state funds could possibly be used to address this very clear need to reduce the suffering of those in inadequate care facilities.

 2. Would you support statewide Visitibility legislation that would require all publicly funded, newly constructed single family homes to have at least one no-step entrance, a first floor bathroom and 36 inch clearance passage for all main floor internal doorways?

 Yes.

 3. Would you support legislation that reverses the effects of this incentive by the creation of a high needs community rate cell to incentivize managed care plans to provide services and supports to people with significant disabilities in the community?

 Yes.

4. Do you support the ability of superintendents to grant a diploma (not a certificate of completion) to students who have tried and failed to pass the ELA Regents Exam but have obtained all the credits need to graduate?

 So long as it is structured not to allow reducing expectations, in particular, and achievement for the applicable students. I strongly support relevant and applicable common core standards for all students.

5. What is your plan to promote independent living for seniors and people with disabilities and ensure Olmstead compliance within New York State?

 As I do not know the reasons for this I would make it a priority to investigate it and work to achieve compliance.

6. If elected, how will you support appropriate funding for paratransit services?

 I agree with this need and would work to understand the unfortunate limitations and improve service.

7. Will you help pass legislation that states that NYS will no longer contract with companies who utilize the 14(c) certificate?

As I do not know the contents of a 14(c) certificate I cannot answer this. I would work very hard to insure every employed, disabled person has working conditions as good and better than people without disabilities.  Paying people pennies an hour is immoral. I do support limited exception to the minimum wage that would allow handicap people who cannot otherwise work to work. Regarding CEO compensation, we need more progressive and just taxation.

 

Rich Funke for New York State Senate

 If elected, what will you do to ensure that people with disabilities in New York nursing facilities who do not meet HUD’s definition of homelessness, but are nonetheless homeless, receive access to housing vouchers/programs so that they may live in the community?

I strongly support S7247, sponsored by my colleague Senator Seward because it would establish an office of community living aimed at bringing all of the stakeholders to the table to ensure that people with disabilities are protected and properly integrated into community housing.

Would you support statewide Visitibility legislation that would require all publicly funded, newly constructed single family homes to have at least one no-step entrance, a first floor bathroom and 36 inch clearance passage for all main floor internal doorways?

Yes.

Would you support legislation that reverses the effects of this incentive by the creation of a high needs community rate cell to incentivize managed care plans to provide services and supports to people with significant disabilities in the community?

Yes. We can all agree that Medicaid must be more efficient and that we should be careful stewards of taxpayer dollars. That said, we should never balance costs on the backs of those who need services most

Do you support the ability of superintendents to grant a diploma (not a certificate of completion) to students who have tried and failed to pass the ELA Regents Exam but have obtained all the credits need to graduate?

Yes. I have been very critical of common core learning standards and their implementation in New York State for reasons exactly like this. One size does not fit all and we should restore control to local control to Superintendents when it comes to granting diplomas to students who do not pass the ELA exam.

What is your plan to promote independent living for seniors and people with disabilities and ensure Olmstead compliance within New York State?

As stated above, I support S7247 in the State Senate as a way to address this ongoing issue.

If elected, how will you support appropriate funding for paratransit services?

I have strongly supported and the Senate has passed in 2015 And 2016 S5556 that would provide greater access to paratransit services. I look forward to working with you and my colleagues to ensure appropriate funding is available in the upcoming state budget.

Will you help pass legislation that states that NYS will no longer contract with companies who utilize the 14(c) certificate?

I support a fair days pay for a fair days work for all New Yorkers. That said, we need to make sure that changes in state policies do not lead to a loss of jobs for the very folks that we intend to help. I look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure that all people are treated with respect in the work place.

 

Patrick Gallivan for New York State Senate

 If elected, what will you do to ensure that people with disabilities in New York nursing facilities who do not meet HUD’s definition of homelessness, but are nonetheless homeless, receive access to housing vouchers/programs so that they may live in the community?

Housing stability is extremely important for all New Yorkers. It is critical for people with disabilities who do not need to be in nursing homes or intermediate care facilities to return to the community to be able to live independently in decent and affordable homes and have access to home and community based services. There is much support nationwide for HUD to expand its definition of homelessness, similar to other federal agencies definitions, to allow communities to be able to determine the true homeless population. As you know, homelessness and housing needs have been at the forefront of the Legislative session this year. The Senate, Assembly and the Governor signed a portion of the Housing MOU in June to provide funding for 1200 supportive housing units. There is ongoing discussions among the Legislature and Governor to address the critical homelessness and housing needs across New York State.

Would you support statewide Visitibility legislation that would require all publicly funded, newly constructed single family homes to have at least one no-step entrance, a first floor bathroom and 36 inch clearance passage for all main floor internal doorways?  

As you may know, I voted yes to legislation that passed both houses in 2015 that would create a visitability tax credit for homeowners for either new or retrofitted principal residences which are universally designed to be accessible and adaptable housing. Governor Cuomo vetoed this legislation. In 2016, both houses passed similar visitability tax credit legislation as a pilot program that I again supported. The bill has not yet been delivered to the Governor, however, once before him I am hopeful that he will sign this important legislation into law to help people with disabilities remain in their homes and out of institutions. I would also be supportive of requirements for all publicly funded, newly constructed single family homes to be accessible.

Would you support legislation that reverses the effects of this incentive by the creation of a high needs community rate cell to incentivize managed care plans to provide services and supports to people with significant disabilities in the community?

Making certain that our most vulnerable populations are able to access appropriate and necessary services and supports is fundamental to ensuring quality and managing costs. It has long been proven that better supports and services translates to lower acuity, better outcomes and a higher quality of life. The shift to managed care has not been without its challenges and it is incumbent on us to find a balance between controlling Medicaid spending and ensuring critical services and supports are not compromised in the process. We must ensure providers are appropriately reimbursed and that the disability community continues to have access to critical long-term services and supports. In the upcoming legislative session, I will be continuing this discussion with my colleagues.

Do you support the ability of superintendents to grant a diploma (not a certificate of completion) to students who have tried and failed to pass the ELA Regents Exam but have obtained all the credits need to graduate?

I fully support the steps the Board of Regents have taken, including the development of a CDOS pathway to a diploma and the safety net protections for students who come close to passing ELA regents.  In today’s economy a high school diploma is a necessary tool for graduates seeking employment, and every opportunity should be afforded to students to help them attain one.  The Senate has taken the additional step of passing S.7063 by Senator Golden, which would have established a pilot program for early screening and intervention of students at risk for dyslexia.  While we must continue to provide options to students for obtaining a diploma, it is also important that we do everything we can to ensure students are screened early and receive the necessary supports to foster learning.

What is your plan to promote independent living for seniors and people with disabilities and ensure Olmstead compliance within New York State?

The Senate remains committed to the idea that individuals with disabilities receive all necessary services while ensuring their right to live and work in the most appropriate integrated setting. To that end, I plan on engaging with providers, State agencies, individuals and their families to ensure the full implementation of the State’s Olmstead plan and improving the integration of disabled individuals into the community. The Senate has long supported programs that enable a Senior to stay in their home. Programs include the Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly Program (EISEP) and Meal Service for Older Adults which can be provided in the home or in a community setting. These programs are provided through The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA).

If elected, how will you support appropriate funding for paratransit services?

Yes, I will support appropriate funding for paratransit services.  The 2016-2017 enacted state budget included increased funding for operating expenses for public transit systems; some of which often para-transit services.  I support sufficient annual increases to ensure services are available.

Will you help pass legislation that states that NYS will no longer contract with companies who utilize the 14(c) certificate?

Following the lead of the Federal Government, the State has taken steps to transition its sheltered workshops into integrated employment settings. While admirable, this is not a complete solution and by its own admission the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) acknowledges that there is a sizable number of individuals who either cannot or do not want to transition into an integrated employment setting. In a report issued in February of this year, OPWDD stated that those individuals who do not wish to enter competitive employment may utilize other services such as day habilitation and community habilitation. While these settings provide other options, nothing is as rewarding as receiving a paycheck for one’s hard work and I will do all I can to protect the rights of every disabled individual to gainful employment.

 

Robin Laverne Wilson for New York State Senate

What will you do to support the Disability Integration Act?

The Nursing Home culture has got to go. It is wrong that we institutionalize those who need assistance in our families whether they are old, physically disabled, or mentally ill. This is a huge problem in our society. We need to prioritize our lives properly. We have become such a consumer culture that our priority has become obtaining the resources needed to consume. We have forgotten the greatest wealth anybody could have, and that is a large loving family. We need to build large families who live together and support each other once again. Our government needs to provide assistance as needed to households with family members who face challenges and to provide them in the home so that the family member can live with their family and maintain their independence and dignity. If a person, by circumstance or choice, lives alone they too should have access to the assistance they need without having to be forced into an institutional environment. They deserve the ability to live an independent and happy life. Marginalizing those that need our help is not the answer.

Will you support the TIME Act?

No. Why should the disabled wait three years? It is bad enough that we have allowed companies to get away with underpaying the disabled as if they are somehow less worthy of a living wage. I call for an index wage based on the cost of living index for all employees. The disabled should not be treated any differently. So that means a $15 minimum wage that would be reviewed for an increase annually in the same way Social Security is reviewed annually.

What would you do to expand access to affordable and accessible transportation for people with disabilities, especially those who live in rural areas?

People with challenges to mobility and orientation find it difficult to live in rural areas and often feel it necessary to move to larger cities with better public transportation. However, certain problems come with that choice. The cost of living is much higher in cities, and the “disabled” are not paid on par with other employees who do not face the same challenges. Accessibility to transportation is not complete. A paltry few stations have elevators and accessibility for the deaf and blind is non-existent. Every crosswalk needs signals accessible to the deaf and blind. Train, subway stations, and bus stops need better accessibility features.

We need to expand accessibility in the cities but need to do this even more so in rural areas. We need to fund access-a-ride type programs in every rural area in the country. Furthermore, those programs need to have the ability to accommodate passengers with same day trip requests as we can’t always plan our lives ahead of time. Such programs can be implemented by working with local car service companies, Uber, Lyft, as well as traditional transportation companies.

What will you do to ensure that ridesharing companies are nondiscriminatory, and accessible to ALL people with disabilities?

Rideshare companies must be mandated to follow the same laws any other car or taxi service must follow. Refusing to take a passenger due to a disability is illegal.  Refusing to take a passenger because he or she has a service animal is illegal. I would ensure that these companies are made to comply with the law and if they do not they would face the same fines any taxi or car service faces from the TLC.

Will you cosponsor and advocate for passage of H.R. 3260, the Inclusive Home Design Act, requiring that all publicly funded, newly constructed, single family homes have one no-step entrance, a first floor bathroom, and 32 inch clearance in internal doorways?

Yes.

If elected, will you sponsor a bill for Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids to have access to sign language in schools?

Yes. Sign language should be treated like a genuine language. It should not only be offered to deaf students but to all students as a second language.

What are you doing to make sure qualified people with disabilities will be a part of your political team and, if elected, as part of your administration?

It should be noted that my Campaign manager is legally blind. I want my administration to represent every segment of our population. We find strength in diversity. Championing the rights of those with disabilities, or rather who are differently abled, will be a key aspect of my administration.

Education about disabilities, both seen and unseen is crucial in that effort. We need to teach the next generation of employers, and government officials what it means to be differently abled. People need to learn that a “disability” is not something that needs to be fixed. A “disabled” person is not broken, but rather they are different. They hear, or see their environment differently. They might get around their environment differently. They may, for various reasons, have a symbiotic relationship with an animal that assists them. They may think or respond to stimuli differently. Teaching our youth how to understand and appreciate the “disabled” as different and unique, with their own culture and values rather than broken and in need of pity is key to setting things right and moving forward towards a day when everywhere is accessible.

We have made considerable strides in the area of accessibility in schools, work and transportation, but we have so far to go until the disabled have equal access to the world we live in. I will make sure that accessibility is no longer simply a token effort on the part of our government, but a real a genuine effort.