Former Utica Mayor David Roefaro is blasting the federal government for what he calls 'horrible' cuts to the Special Olympics program.

Roefaro is specifically targeting Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, who he says, "is once again taking a hacksaw to a program that has given people with special needs the chance to shine."

DeVos became a national target on social media Wednesday when she defended her funding cut for Special Olympics to Congress, saying “There are dozens of worthy nonprofits that support students and adults with disabilities that don’t get a dime of federal grant money,” she said. “Given our current budget realities, the federal government cannot fund every worthy program, particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations.”

The cut totals $17.6 million that comes to Special Olympics from the Education Department and is part of $7 billion in budget cuts proposed for next year. The cut represents about 10-percent of the total revenue Special Olympics receives during the year.

“I have hosted the New York Special Olympics in Utica before and personally met with athletes who have overcome impossible odds to show the world their talents and prove nothing is impossible," Roefaro said in a statement on Wednesday. "I urge Secretary DeVos to reverse her stance, meet with these athletes and undo this grave mistake."

In 2010, when Roefaro was Mayor, Utica hosted the New York State Special Olympic games at Utica College which featured more than 1,500 athletes from around the state.

"I will be traveling to New York City to advocate against this cut in the very near future,” Roefaro added. 


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