What an interesting time we live in. I hope all of you and your loved ones remain healthy as we navigate these uncharted waters. As I mentioned during our 5-day virtual conference last week, I have never been as proud of our network as you all transformed, adapted, and evolved your programs and services for older adults. Thank you for serving the 1.7million older adults of our Commonwealth.
Beacon Hill has restarted the FY21 budget process and our revised letter to the 191st General Court requesting level funding was sent this morning to all Senators and Representatives. https://mcoaonline.com/2020/10/30/councils-on-aging-fy21-budget-request-to-legislators-revised/
Usually a budget for the next fiscal year (July-June) is finalized by July 1st but the delay this cycle was caused by COVID which triggered a recession. The Commonwealth has received Federal assistance but the last proposed installment which might have included additional assistance for municipalities and states never materialized as the Supreme Court vacancy and the election complicated this drive.
So we are back to square one with the current timeline looking like a final budget will come before the winter holidays. The projected shortfall in revenues is estimated to be in the 10-15% range.
- Governor Baker revised his FY21 budget and the Elder Affairs Line Items remain similar to his original January proposal including:
- Line Item 9110-1640/ Elder Mental Health level funded at $800,000 = maintains 7 projects
- Line Item 9110-9002/Local Aid to COAs was funded at $16,515,125 which will allow the Formula Grant to remain at $12/elder but it does underfund the Service Incentive Grant portion of the line item by 31%. Though we can make this allocation work, because our top priority is the $12/FG, we are asking the Legislature for Level Funding (same as FY20 & FY21) of $17million to maintain the full funding of the SIG Program.
- House Ways and Means will develop its own version of the FY21 budget and then the full House will debate.
- Then the Senate ways and Means will develop its own version followed debate in the full Senate.
- Then a Conference Committee will reconcile allocation and language differences and forward this recommendation to the Governor who will have 10 days to approve or veto.
Note: Underfunding while maintaining the $12 Formula Grant will cause a significant reduction to SIG by 31%. 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. $17million is needed to continue fund these programs without cuts.
MCOA Request Message:
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. Seven 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.
Member Action Needed:
MCOA is asking all members to send a copy of the Revised FY21 Request https://mcoaonline.com/2020/10/30/councils-on-aging-fy21-budget-request-to-legislators-revised/ to your legislators with a summary of how COVID and this recession has impacted your local Council on Aging. Make a direct pitch to fully fund Line Item #9110-9002 at $17million (they did for FY19 and FY20). Relate the impact of SIG cuts will have and asked them to allocate the additional $484,875 to fully fund SIG.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.