Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Ways and Means Committee Chair Herman D. Farrell and Social Services Committee Chair Keith L.T. Wright announced today the Assembly rejected $11.4 million in cuts to the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program proposed in the Executive Deficit Reduction Plan (DRP).
New York State provides a supplemental cash allowance to the federal SSI benefit for qualified individuals-- those people with little or no income who are age 65 or older, as well as individuals of any age who are blind or disabled. The Executive's DRP would have slashed the state's contribution to SSI by $14 a month for an individual living alone and $9 per month for an individual living with others. The SSI rate in New York, combining both the federal SSI benefit and the state supplement, is $761 per month for a person living alone.
"While a reduction of $9 or $14 per month may not sound like much, to people living on little or no income who depend on SSI, it would have a devastating effect," said Silver (D-Manhattan). "The Assembly has been working with the Governor and the Senate to put forward a responsible deficit reduction proposal; however, putting a financial strain on our most vulnerable New Yorkers is unacceptable."
"With the collapse of the financial sector, New York State has suffered considerably in the midst of the national recession, and my colleagues and I in the Assembly have been forced to make some very difficult reductions to address the budget deficit," said Farrell (D-Manhattan).
"Although I commend the Governor for aggressively addressing the state's fiscal problems, those living on low fixed incomes would suffer disproportionately if state SSI benefits are diminished."
"During this economic recession, the Assembly stood its ground in rejecting any deficit reduction measure that included cuts to the state's contribution to SSI," said Wright (D-Manhattan). "In the big picture of the budget deficit, it was unnecessary to make cuts that would have harmful effects on elderly or disabled New Yorkers who live on a modest fixed income. I am pleased that despite the need to address the deficit, we did not cut back on this valuable program."