Opinion

Assemblyman Tom Alfano criticized Governor Paterson's proposed "slash and burn" funding cuts for local nursing homes that serve seniors in Franklin Square, Floral Park, North Valley Stream, West Hempstead and Elmont. The funding announcement is the second proposed budget cut that now endangers senior programs.

"The Orzac Center and the Garden Care Center help many seniors who reside in our community with quality care that they desperately need," Assemblyman Alfano said. "It's chilling that Governor Paterson would propose cutting state funding for these local nursing homes. In these challenging economic times, you don't balance budgets on the backs of seniors and children. This is yet another indication that Albany isn't listening. It's about time that we demand economic development now and a stop to the easy budget cuts that truly hurt those we should be fiercely defending in this state."

Governor Paterson's proposed state budget cuts state funding for the Garden Care Center in Franklin Square by $183,000 and The Orzac Center for Extended Care and Rehabilitation on Franklin Avenue in North Valley Stream by $681,000. In total, over $864,000 will be lost in funding.

"These cuts are not only a loss in access to quality care, but a loss in local jobs by outstanding health care professionals who provide critical care to our seniors," Alfano said.

"This is just another example of bad decisions being made in health care by the governor," he continued. "We can't allow our state budget to be balanced on the backs of senior citizens who have served our country and built our communities. How we treat our seniors is a direct reflection on us as a community and state. The governor's cuts fail that test. I pledge to work with the governor to see how we can address this serious situation for our communities."

This is the second consecutive year that the governor has proposed state funding cuts for the Garden Care Center and The Orzac Center. Last year, the governor's budget plan cut $2,027,470 in nursing home cuts. After a fierce budget battle, Assemblyman Alfano and Senator Dean Skelos restored a great deal of the funding.

The State Assembly also rejected the health care cuts proposed by the governor last year. Assemblyman Alfano consistently overrode gubernatorial votes of health care and restored cuts to local hospitals like Franklin, Nassau University Medical Center and the Elmont Health Center.

"Clearly, the budget is going to have to cut programs and services. However, we have to come to the reality that increasing taxes is not the answer and cutting health care and education are just plain wrong. Our focus needs to be on job creation, attracting business, opening up credit to entrepreneurs and assisting the housing market. This is the time to make dramatic change to government and bring back real sound financial practices and accountability to the budget. Imagine, making programs demonstrate that they are working. If they don't, eliminate them. Imagine, demanding that services cut administration and put the dollars into the actual service. This is what we have to do now," Assemblyman Alfano said.


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