Rochester, NY (August 10, 2021) – The Center for Disability Rights released the following statement about Incoming Governor Kathy Hochul:
In the face of impeachment proceedings addressing sexual harassment and the mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic in our state’s nursing facilities, Andrew Cuomo has announced his resignation as Governor of New York State. Although this ends his tenure as Governor, today’s announcement begins the process of healing for our state.
With the transition in leadership, New York State will finally have its first female Governor. This milestone is long overdue, but there is hard work ahead for all of us. Our future Governor, Kathy Hochul, is taking the reins of state government during a time of unprecedented challenges. It is imperative that she recognize the failures of her predecessor as she moves our state forward.
The incoming Governor needs to recognize that many of the 15,000 deaths of institutionalized Disabled and elderly New Yorkers could have been prevented if the Cuomo administration worked with disability rights advocates and implemented proposals which would have mitigated their risk during the pandemic. Looking ahead, we urge incoming-Governor Hochul and her administration to address the long-standing institutional bias in the New York State Department of Health and its callous disregard for the Disabled lives lost to COVID-19 and institutionalization. She needs to invest in community-based services instead of continuing policies that enrich managed care companies at the expense of elderly and Disabled New Yorkers.
She needs to understand that the ableist structure of state government has left Disabled New Yorkers unrepresented and disenfranchised for far too long. This has allowed critical gaps to form in New York’s infrastructure. As an example, Deaf New Yorkers should never have needed to sue the state to gain access to the Governor’s COVID-19 briefings. We look forward to collaborating with incoming-Governor Hochul to address this critical failure of the Cuomo administration. Immediately upon taking office, she should sign legislation reinstating the Office of the Advocate for People with Disabilities (A. 3130 [Steck] / S. 1836 [Skoufis]) – legislation which has twice been vetoed by Governor Cuomo. Reestablishing this office is a critically important step forward to ensure that our state meets the needs of Disabled New Yorkers and will send a powerful message that the incoming administration embraces New Yorkers with disabilities.