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The state budget

Dear Editor:

The battle took many twists and turns this year, but we would be remiss not to acknowledge the final funding bill and the members of the Legislature who fought tirelessly on behalf of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Specifically, I would like to acknowledge the hard work of Senate President Steve Sweeney who fought to increase wages for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) in the FY18 Budget. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities rely on DSPs for the hands-on supports and services in the community, but without a wage increase for the last ten years, it has become increasingly difficult to find and retain employees. This, compounded with starting wages of only $10.50 an hour, makes staffing programs a real challenge and starts to jeopardize the availability of services. Senate President Sweeney made this matter a priority and fought to ensure $20 million remained when the dust settled and the final budget document was signed. On behalf of individuals with I/DD and their families in the state, we would like to thank the Senate President and the members of the New Jersey Legislature who helped make this increase a reality.

Sincerely,

Thomas Baffuto
The Executive Director of The Arc of New Jersey
and the Chair of the Coalition for a DSP Living Wage.

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