Organizations representing New Yorkers with developmental, intellectual and physical disabilities, including those who are blind, sent the attached letter to Gov. Kathy Hochul urging her to sign S.7578C/A.8549C, also known as the Preferred Source Modernization Bill.
The bill unanimously passed the Senate and Assembly at the end of session and would make the first significant updates in New York’s Preferred Source Program since its inception in 1975. The program was created in the aftermath of the Willowbrook scandal that exposed New York’s poor treatment of persons with disabilities.
The Preferred Source Modernization Bill:
- Modernizes multiple terms within the Preferred Source statute including references to “workshops” and “severely” disabled.
- Simplifies the process for approving Preferred Source contracts to make it closer to other diversity and inclusion contracting initiatives. Right now, the OGS review threshold is $50,000, a level set 14 years ago. The Rockefeller Institute recommended it be raised to $250,000. The bill raises it to $100,000.
- Expands employment opportunities for people with disabilities by establishing that the disabled ratio required on a given contract be performed by people with disabilities from 75 percent to 50 percent. This recognizes the fact that much of the employment now takes place in community-based settings with competitive wages where persons with disabilities work side by side with people without disabilities.
Letter can be read below:
“Dear Governor Hochul:
The undersigned organizations, through our member agencies, represent the majority of New Yorkers with a developmental, intellectual or physical disability, including those who are blind. We write today to respectfully urge you to sign S.7578C/A.8549C, also known as the Preferred Source Modernization Bill, which unanimously passed the Senate and Assembly this session.
This legislation brings New York’s landmark program of job support for persons with disabilities into the 21st Century. As you know, the Preferred Source Program was created in 1975 after the Willowbrook scandal. In one fell swoop, then-Gov. Hugh Carey and the Legislature turned New York’s treatment of persons with disabilities from national disgrace to national model. Only minimal changes have been made in the program since 1975.
S.7578C/A.8549C modernizes multiple terms within the preferred source statute including outdated references to “workshops” and “severely” disabled. It also creates new thresholds for what percentage of a Preferred Source contract must be performed by disabled, or otherwise qualified, persons to receive Preferred Source status. The threshold for OGS review is increased for the first time in 14 years. Finally, it increases opportunities for competitive integrated employment.
By signing this unanimously passed bill, you will be strengthening the Preferred Source Program so it can support more people and turbo-charge its economic benefits for the state while remaining under the watchful eye of regulators and policy makers.
All these changes to the program were called for in two exhaustive reports by the Rockefeller Institute of Government (2019 and 2021)
You have clearly demonstrated your commitment to New Yorkers with disabilities, notably by your budget priorities, administrative appointments, and creation of the state’s first Chief Disabilities Officer. We and the people our organizations support thank you not only for your awareness of these issues but for your action on them.
Signing the Preferred Source Modernization Bill would build on this record and add to New York’s proper standing as a model of support for people with disabilities.
President & CEO, Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York State
Christopher T. Burke
Executive Director, NYS Preferred Source Program for New Yorkers who are Blind
CEO, The Arc New York
New York Alliance for Developmental Disabilities
Executive Director, Interagency Council of Developmental Disabilities Agencies
President & CEO, New York State Industries for the Disabled
President & CEO, New York Alliance for Inclusion and Innovation“