January 4, 2019

 

Members of the 191st General Court

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

On behalf of the 350 cities and towns that have established a municipally based Council on Aging, I want to thank members of the 190th General Court for their support of increasing the COA Formula Grant to $12/elder/year. This form of local aid will allow COAs to augment their municipal budgets to expand existing services and programs that are designed to help residents of our Commonwealth, age 60 and over. We are truly grateful that so many of you made COAs a priority, when you spoke to the Ways and Means Chairs and then lobbied the Speaker and the President for final passage.

As we begin the 191st General Court’s legislative session that will span 2019-2020, I want to outline our preliminary asks of the Administration and the Legislature. This list will be refined by our members over the next 30 days. A formal request will be addressed to your office later this month. Currently we seek:

FY19 Budget Line Items:

9110-9002 Local Aid to Municipal Councils on Aging

We request level funding at $17m with two clarifications:

  1. Line Item 9110-9002 is comprised of two parts: The Formula Grant (FG) and the Service Incentive Grant (SIG). At $12/elder the total needed for the FG is $ 15,453,216 with a minimum of $6000 for smaller COAs. The SIG traditionally has been 10% above the FG figure or in this case $1,545,322 for a total of $16,998,538 or $17m. In FY18, the EOEA Secretary approved SIG funding for local transportation and outreach projects; statewide licenses for Benefits Checkup and Aging Mastery Programs; job fair, housing, and benefits counseling programs; diversity training, retirement planning, and caregiver support; training and technical assistance for COA staff and board; systems inventory; support for age- and dementia-friendly initiatives; a grant writer who brings into the COA network 15x her salary; and elder mental health demonstration projects.  If Line Item #9110-9002 funding does not receive the full 10% – above Formula Grant need – then all or some of these projects would need to be cut. Fully funding SIG means an allocation of $17m in line item #9110-9002
  2. In addition, the FY19 allocation included $1,261,000 in earmarks that assist local communities with capital funding for small projects. MCOA is truly appreciative of the Legislature’s support of municipal COAs by recognizing and funding their capital needs. Representative James O’Day had filed H2078 – an Act relative to the construction and rehabilitation of senior centers. This act may prove a more efficient and competitive vehicle to address these municipalities needs.

5046-0000      Elder Mental Health – currently there is a $500,000 earmark that funds 5 Elder Mental Health Outreach Teams across our Commonwealth within Line Item #5046-0000. We suggest that to avoid the earmark, transfer these funds to line item 9110-1640 – Elder Mental Health that existed up to FY12; and if possible allow for growth of 3 new projects for a total allocation of $800,000.

(Regional Elder Mental Health Teams based in the following organizations Amesbury COA ; New Bedford COA; Bellingham COA and Blackstone Valley Region; LifePath Elder Services in Greenfield; Somerville Cambridge Elder Services)

2019-2020 Legislative Session:  Request to be Refiled

MCOA hopes that the sponsors of these proposed bills will refile their legislation and that additional co-sponsors will sign on:

  • Senior Property Tax Relief S2135: Passed by the Senate in the 190th General Court this bill contains recommendations from MCOA’s Property Tax Relief Tax Force that consists of Assessors, consumers and COA staff.
  • S878/H3025 An Act Related to the expansion of the Good Samaritan Law (volunteer drivers)
  • H2078 An Act relative to the construction and rehabilitation of senior centers.

In addition, we await review of the bills filed by members of the 191st General Court and we welcome any opportunity to vet, and possibly support, legislation that improves the lives of older adults of our Commonwealth. Let us know of your proposals.

Thank you for your consideration of these requests and your support of the Commonwealth’s older adults.

David P. Stevens

Executive Director

MCOA

iPhone: 413.539.0565

Email: david@mcoaonline.com

 

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Massachusetts Councils
on Aging

116 Pleasant Street, Suite 306
Easthampton, MA 01027
Telephone: 413-527-6425
Fax: 413-527-7138