The federal government isn’t cutting its funding for the Special Olympics, but New York State is, according to its budget.
New York’s budget for the Special Olympics decreased from $200,000 in 2018 to $150,000 for this year. Meanwhile, every one of the state’s 213 lawmakers will ultimately receive a raise that is almost the same amount cut from the games for disabled athletes.
Stacey Hengsterman, the president of Special Olympics New York, said in a statement reported by WKBW:
The budget process is always difficult and we are grateful we had so many champions advocating on our behalf. We will continue to work with our representatives in state government to hopefully increase these funds and continue to grow this important program.
State Assemblyman Patrick Burke, a Buffalo Democrat, said in a statement, according to WKBW: “I will be pursuing this further to ensure that funding to the Special Olympics of New York cannot be harmfully impacted.”
New York lawmakers agreed on a budget for fiscal year 2020 on March 31, one day before the fiscal year started.
State lawmakers received their first pay raise since 1999 in January, earning $110,000 from $79,500. Under the budget, legislators will eventually earn $130,000 in 2021.
The plan also raised the salary of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo by $70,000 to a quarter million dollars a year, the highest of any governor.
Democrats and the media lashed out in March when Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos proposed a budget that would cut $18 million from the Special Olympics, a nonprofit that raises $100 million a year in private donations.
“This is an emotional issue,” Joy Behar said on The View Friday. “You don’t want people running the country who have no sympathy or empathy for the poor and disabled.”
Wisconsin Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan repeatedly interrupted Devos as she attempted to explain her position at a congressional hearing.
The New York Times quoted California Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee saying to DeVos: “I still can’t understand why you would go after disabled children in your budget… It’s appalling.”
The Trump administration ultimately decided not to cut the Special Olympics.
More than a year ago, in February 2018, Devos announced that she would donate her entire salary to three charities including the Special Olympics.