Standing In Dutchess County, As They Prepare To Host New York Special Olympics This Summer & Next, Senator Details “Moral Obligation” To Fund Games At National Level; New York Games Receive Direct Dollars From Feds 

Schumer Announces Plan To Insert $20 Million Request Into Upcoming Appropriation Budget On Behalf Of Special Olympics & Says Bipartisan Support Exists To Neutralize Any Threat To Cut Games

Schumer: I Will Clear Hurdles To Ensure U.S. & New York Special Olympics Get The Fed Dollars They Deserve

Standing at SUNY Dutchess’s Falcon Hall, one of the locations of this summer’s upcoming New York Special Olympic Games, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today launched a major push to secure boosted funding for the Special Olympics. Schumer explained that recently, the Department of Education proposed slashing the budget of the Special Olympics by $17.5 million, taking away vital programming for Americans with intellectual disabilities across the country, particularly the roughly 70,000 athletes that take part in the Special Olympics in New York.

Schumer explained that although the administration backtracked, saying they may not be cutting the program’s budget after all, that the situation will not be resolved until Congress acts, and passes funding for the Special Olympics in the appropriations process. Therefore, Schumer announced his total opposition to the administration’s cuts to the Special Olympics and launched a major push to secure an increase in funding, totaling $20 million in federal funding for the non-profit organization during the appropriations process, which already has widespread and bipartisan support in Congress and throughout the country.

“The Special Olympics is one of the nation’s greatest organizations and benefits millions of Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including 70,000 New Yorkers, and not one penny of their federal funding should be at risk,” said Senator Schumer. “That’s why today, at the location of the 2019 and 2020 New York Summer Special Olympic Games in Dutchess County, I am vowing that any attempt by the administration to cut even a penny from the Special Olympics federal funding will be dead on arrival, and instead, launching a push to boost funding for the life-changing non-profit by millions of dollars. The Special Olympics is an organization unlike any other in the United States, helping to build a truly meaningful community for adults and children alike with intellectual and developmental disabilities and I will do every single thing that I can to support them at the federal level, because the only hurdles they should have to worry about are the ones that will take place right here in June.”

Schumer explained Dutchess County will hold the 2019 New York Special Olympics Summer Games, the latest embodiment of the County’s “Think DIFFERENTLY” initiative, which fosters a welcoming and inclusive environment for those living with disabilities. Since Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro launched “Think DIFFERENTLY” in 2015, more than 100 municipalities throughout New York State have joined the movement, signing resolutions to similarly support those of every ability in their own communities. Dutchess County has led the state in its efforts to “Think DIFFERENTLY” and promote inclusiveness, including, among other steps, appointing New York’s first Deputy Commissioner for Special Needs, funding accessible infrastructure projects through its Community Development Block Grant program, and hosting numerous annual events for differently abled residents and their families.

Schumer detailed how the Department of Education’s (ED) budget proposal suggested slashing $17.6 million in vital funding for the Special Olympics. Schumer explained that not only does the Special Olympics host sporting events and competitions for the special needs community, it also supports educational programming in schools to help students with intellectual and developmental disabilities feel accepted by their communities, teaching lessons about teamwork, leadership and inclusion. According to the federal ED, this program exists in 6,493 schools across the country in 48 states including 174 schools in New York and 18 in the Hudson Valley, reaching hundreds of thousands of students nationwide and 70,000 in New York. The Administration’s budget proposed slashing ED’s $68 billion budget by 12%, or roughly $8 billion.

Schumer explained that this year was not the first time ED attempted to cut the Special Olympics’ operating budget. In each and every one of the previous budget cycles under the current administration, ED attempted to slash this critical outreach funding for the Special Olympics. However, Schumer noted that last year, he successfully rebuffed the proposed cuts, and Congress increased funding for the Special Olympics by $2.5 million. Schumer explained that this year, not only is he vowing to repel the proposed cuts, but he is launching a major push to increase funding for the Special Olympics to $20 million, to ensure that the non-profit is able to continue offering the invaluable services it does to the disabled community.

Schumer added that the administration’s budget also suggested cutting the Institution for Education Sciences budget for Special Education Research by $2 million. The Institution for Education Sciences uses this funding to research critical topics among the special needs community such as Autism Spectrum Disorders; Cognition and Student Learning in Special Education; Early Intervention and Early Learning in Special Education; Families of Children with Disabilities; Professional Development for Teachers and School-Based Service Providers; Reading, Writing and Language Development; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education; Social and Behavioral Outcomes to Support Learning; Special Education Policy, Finance, and Systems; Technology for Special Education; and Transition Outcomes for Secondary Students with Disabilities.

Schumer was joined by Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce President Frank Castella, and President of Dutchess County Tourism Mary Kay Vrba.

“In Dutchess County, we’re proud to ‘Think DIFFERENTLY’ about our friends and neighbors with developmental disabilities, and we’re honored to host the 2019 Special Olympics New York Summer Games this June. I thank Senator Schumer for his unyielding dedication to and relentless support of this organization that means so much to me and brings out the best in human spirit, inspiring all who take part as a volunteer, fan or competitor. Our community set volunteer records when Dutchess County hosted our state’s Winter Games in 2016 and 2017, and we look forward to again setting an example which New York – and our nation’s Department of Education – can follow,” said Marcus J. Molinaro, Dutchess County Executive.

“The Special Olympics leave an incredible impact on the lives of all of the people they touch, championing inclusiveness and the spirit of competition. I’ve always been a proud supporter of the Special Olympics, especially with them happening in Dutchess County over the summer, and am thrilled to have Senator Schumer joining us today and emphasizing their importance at the federal level. The one thing that everyone can agree with is that the Special Olympics deserve access to all the resources needed to continue imparting their phenomenal message on Dutchess County, New York State and the entire nation,” said Mary Kay Vrba, President & CEO of Dutchess County Tourism.

“The Special Olympics is an unrivaled non-profit that does so much good for both New York’s intellectually disabled community and the state in its entirety. I couldn’t be more appreciative of Senator Schumer coming here to the site of this summer’s Special Olympic Games to support the organization, and am proud to stand alongside him today and join his fight for increased funding. The awe-inspiring Special Olympics teach us to be the best possible versions of ourselves and I look forward to them coming to Dutchess County this June,” said Frank Castella, Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce President.  

Schumer explained that this summer’s New York State Special Olympic Games will be held in Dutchess County, with roughly 1,500 athletes expected to compete on June 14th and 15th. Specific Special Olympics events will be held at four locations across the county: Vassar College, Dutchess Community College, Mr. Todd’s Gymnastics in Poughkeepsie, and Schneider’s Fishkill Bowl.

The Special Olympics is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1968 to bring people with intellectual disabilities together and give them the opportunity to compete in sporting events with one another, to foster skills in them such as teamwork, cooperation, sportsmanship and inclusiveness. Today, the Special Olympics operates in over 170 countries, hosting more than 100,000 events and competitions each year that include more than 5 million athletes with disabilities and 1 million coaches and volunteers.


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