To the 191st General Court:
On behalf of the 350 cities and towns that have established a municipally based Council on Aging, thank you to the members of the 191st General Court for your work during this time of COVID. During this difficult time, you along with the Administration have provided the leadership and guidance to keep our Commonwealth moving forward. Thank You.
Originally, we provided you with our budgetary requests for FY21 back on December 2, 2019, which was for level funding in both Line Items 9110-1640/Elder Mental Health and 9110-9002/ Local Aid to Municipally based Councils on Aging. Our reasoning almost 11 months ago was simple:
- Level Funding for 9110-1640 – two new regional projects were just started with your $300,000 additional allocation in FY20, all seven projects were now reporting on with new metrics, and it was premature to report out any data or claim a particular intervention was a “success;”
- Level Funding for 9110-9002 –for the third year in a row we sought $17 million for line item #9110-9002 because we anticipated a significant increase request for FY22 when the new US Census data is released.
Our request for level funding both lines has not changed but our reasoning has.
Line Item #9110-9002
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- Full funding of Line Item 911-9002 is $17million which allows for $12/elder Formula Grant (local aid) and a 10% set aside for competitive regional grants, Service Incentive Grants (SIG)
- Formula Grant based on the April 1, 2010 US Census counted 1,273,271 older adults in our Commonwealth. Results of the new 2020 US Census count will impact the FY22 budget.
- The Service Incentive Grants (SIG) are competitive, align with priorities set by the Administration and Legislature and have focused on transportation, outreach to underserved populations, job training and promotion of volunteer opportunities, respite, expanding economic assistance and nutritional services to older adults at risk, establishing and disseminating best practices especially during this time of COVID (e.g. reopening protocols, online consumer training, etc.), Grandparents raising Grandchildren support, Statewide licenses for AMP and Brain Training, and the match needed for grants from the federal ACL respite grant and from Tufts Health Plan Foundation for Dementia Friendly MA.
- Underfunding while maintaining the $12 Formula Grant will cause a significant reduction to SIG programs listed above by 31%. $17million is needed to fund these programs.
- Municipal cuts have already been significant. Most of this line item pays for salaries of front-line workers. Any reduction in Line Item #9110-9002 will mean layoffs and curtailing services to the older adult population.
On October 14, 2020, our Governor resubmitted his Revised House 2 for FY21:
- It level funded Line Items 9110-1640/Elder Mental Health at $800,000; and
- Funded Line Item 9110-9002/ Local Aid to Municipally based Councils on Aging at $16,515,125; underfunding the SIG Program by$ 484, 875. If his proposal stands there will be a 31% cut to SIG programs listed above (see #3).
Most of us in the Senior Center field adopt the philosophy of the engagement theory, that professes that keeping older adults engaged produces healthier outcomes and a longer life.
Just like we, as a Commonwealth, want our children in school so they do not fall behind; we need to keep older adults engaged or their health and well-being will decline. A Senior Center is a community focal point to provide assistance on the aging spectrum; without it there is no replacement.
We know that the legislature must make very difficult choices during these unprecedented times. We appreciate your consideration of our request to serve this most vulnerable population.
- LEVEL FUND: Line Item 9110-9002- Local Aid to municipal Councils on Aging at $17m. Cities and towns face challenges during COVID and specifically municipal Councils on Aging have a double impact as they try to serve the older adult population. We have adapted our programming to online formats, transformed our outreach services to underserved populations as we have evolved our network during these unprecedented times. We need your help to maintain $17million in line item #9110-9002 to maintain the $12/elder Formula Grant and keep the vital regional competitive grants alive (SIG).
- LEVEL FUND: Line Item 9110-1640- Elder Behavioral Health at $800,000. 7 projects around the state are currently being field tested with funding from this line item and another 4 are funded thru DPH suicide prevention funds. These 11 projects are currently aligning reporting requirements. We hope to better understand their outcomes and then design the best intervention systems for our Commonwealth. During this time of COVID these services are needed more than ever. We hope to learn from them and then expand these services statewide over the next decade.
Thank you for your consideration of these requests and your support of the Commonwealth’s older adults.
MCOA President and
Director, Hampden Council on Aging
MCOA Legislative Chair and
Director, Newton Council on Aging