The House Ways and Means Committee will be releasing it proposed version for the FY22 Budget on Wednesday, April 14th, followed by full House debate the week of April 26th. The Senate will then follow the same procedure and conclude its deliberations by May 21st (estimate). Since many of our original assumptions made back during the winter holidays have been revised; I wanted to update everyone, so you can understand what is about to occur and MCOA’s revised strategy.
Membership Involvement: The old way we did business of “making the ask” has been set aside, because I wanted the focus to remain on “getting shots into arms”. Other than forwarding the letter detailed below, your role has been minimal, so I ask you to read this entire communication so you will better understand our thinking if action is needed or if your Legislator contacts you for your opinion. Board Members have assisted me with over 50 Zoom visits so far and another 30+ have been scheduled.
Original Intent: Our December 17, 2020 letter to the Governor and our January 11, 2021 Letter to the Legislature (https://mcoaonline.com/advocacy/advocacy-agenda/) formally asked for:
- Line Item #9110-1640/Elder Behavioral Health= level funding for existing 7 projects of $1million
- Line Item #9110-9002/Local Aid to Councils on Aging= $20.5million/$10.50/elder in FY22 and full funding $23m/$12/elder in FY23.
- This 2 step approach over two years reflects that the count for the 2020 US Census is projected to include 450,000 more older adults and the Line Item would need to be increased from $17m to $23m and that enormous step (30%) would be unlikely and thus the Board requested that we “stagger” with two steps over 2 years of $3m each.
New Information/Background: Revised Strategy
State Tax Collections Keep Up Brisk Pace in March: “The over-benchmark collections, if they hold up, could lead to a significant surplus at the end of fiscal 2021 this summer, which would come just as state officials are making decisions about how to spend billions of dollars in federal aid coming as part of the American Rescue Plan. Budget writers in the Legislature and the Baker administration have expressed interest in using available revenues to limit rainy day fund draws.” By Colin A. Young, State House News Service APRIL 5, 2021
MCOA Updates our FY22 “Asks”: April 5 , 2021
- 9110-1640 Elder Behavioral Health: The FY21 allocation of $1m currently provides 7 regional projects/40 towns with wrap around interventions that are currently not funded/prioritized within our existing Mental Health network. MCOA, Mass Home Care, DMH, EOEA and advocates from the Elder Mental Health Coalition strongly feel that the 60+ population has distinct challenges that need separate services from the existing MH network. When we first issued our FY22 request (January 11, 2021 letter) we asked for level funding of $1m in FY22; but since additional revenues have been identified, we are moving the goal post and now ask for an additional $200,000 to start 2 new projects through a competitive bid process. All existing projects are operating under the same reporting requirements with the eventual goal to take successful programs statewide. The additional funding for FY22 would allow us to gather more metrics to make more informed decisions about developing a statewide network.
- 9110-9002 Local Aid to municipal Councils on Aging is currently funded at $17m and has been since FY19, which provides for $12/elder/year. The GAA, for those identified funding cycles, will indicate a higher allocation but these are earmarks for local capital projects. This line item contains two distinct components: The Service Incentive Grant (SIG) Program and the Formula Grant (FG) Program, a per capita allocation based on the “latest available” US Census count. The line item originated in FY80 as SIG, for capacity building competitive grants to strengthen our Commonwealth’s COA network. SIG currently funds needed match for the Federal ACL Respite Grant and match for the Tufts Foundation Age and Dementia Friendly grants. It also funds several regional transportation contracts, outreach programs to under-served populations and for outreach for rural COA consortiums, all of our health promotion and economic security endeavors including a Job Seekers program that helps older adults find new employment opportunities. These priorities originated from several Legislative Commissions (LGBT Aging Project, Elder Economic Security and Falls Prevention) as well as priorities established by the Administration (Governor’s Council on Aging/ Age & Dementia Friendly). They are endorsed and promoted by our network of 350 municipally based Councils on Aging.
The FG was layered onto SIG in FY82 and offered communities another source of local aid based on the latest available US Census. It started at $0.50/elder and has grown to $12/elder (FY19-21). The ratio within the line item has been for the last 40 years is approximately 10% SIG and 90% FG though the set aside for SIG has been reduced during recessions as have the FG rate. MCOA is committed to keeping this 90/10 ratio to promote capacity-building through innovation and regionalization.
As to our Formula Grant request for FY22: If this was a “normal roll in” of the US Census, the calibration of the Formula Grant would occur in FY22 budget. Since there will be a delay in the US Census until the fall, and we have no idea if there will be a significant under-count, a challenge is presented.
Estimates from UMASS/Donahue Institute project 450,000 more older adults, which would translate that $6million additional dollars would be needed to maintain the $12/elder Formula and fully fund SIG. A 30% increase to one line item in one year is deemed unlikely. Thus we advance two strategies:
- Our January 11th letter details what we call this “Option A: The Staggered Approach” as our formal request for FY22 and beyond and suggest that the Legislature proceed as we had in FY02 and FY12 by ratcheting back the Formula rate maybe to $11/elder or $10 and then rebuild/restore the $12 Formula over the next fiscal year.
- The Governor has a different proposal which our Board has equally endorsed: “Option B: Wait and See/Supplemental”. The administration’s reasoning is to wait until a final count is proffered and then provide an adjustment to the Formula Grant through a supplemental. It is unclear whether they would propose the full amount or embrace a two year approach at that time.
Each approach is viable and we recognize that these details are above our pay grade. We fully trust the Legislature to choose between the options delineated.
- Option A: Stagger in increases over 2-3 years that will be necessary to restore the $12/elder
- Option B: Wait and see and return with a supplemental budget later in the year.
Of note relevant to this decision:
- The concern some of you have expressed about whether any funds would be left to address this need with a supplemental, later in the year has been shared during the legislative visits.
- One advantage that favors the Wait and See/Supplemental is a change the Administration has made about carryover, which was previously disallowed. However, starting with FY20 Formula grant, balances are now allowed to carry forward FG allocations into the next fiscal year. Thus even if supplemental allocation came in April, COAs would be able to effectively utilize the increase.
2010 US Census count 60+ Population
|2020 US Census estimate of 60+ Population by the Donahue Institute UMASS/ Amherst|
|Increase over 2010 = 448,191|
|@ $17million||@ $17million||@ $19million||@ $21million||@ $23million|
|The allocation to Line Item #9110-9002 for FY18,FY19, FY20, and FY21 (4 year level funding) excluding earmarks has been $17million = $12/elder/YEAR Formula Grant and full funding of Service Incentive Grants||If level funding at $17million for FY22 then the Formula Grant would be reduced to $9/elder/YEAR with corresponding allocation for SIG||If an additional $2million could be allocated then the Formula Grant would only be reduced to $10/elder/YEAR with corresponding allocation for SIG||If an additional $4million could be allocated then the Formula Grant would only be reduced to $11/elder/YEAR with corresponding allocation for SIG||To Maintain $12/elder/YEARFormula Grant and fully fund SIG an additional $6million is needed|
A downloadable spreadsheet can be found at “Impact of 2020 US Census on the COA Formula Grant – Projections” referenced above and it details the impact the increased census count has on this line item. https://mcoaonline.com/advocacy/advocacy-agenda/
For now use your FY21 Formula Grant allocation has your planning figure in your local COA budget. We will be in contact next week if any additional steps are needed.
I welcome feedback from our members about this revised strategy and I am very interested in anything you hear from your legislative delegation in the meantime thanks for helping our older adults get vaccinated!