January 8, 2014 – Have you ever felt ignored? In a proactive move, ahead of the Governor’s budget proposal scheduled for release this week, California’s Assembly Democrats recently released their 2014/15 Blueprint for a Responsible Budget (click here to check it out). The plan responds to the Legislative Analyst’s Office recommendations for keeping us on the path of fiscal stability now that we have a structurally balanced budget. It would build reserves and increase investments, and be smart about it. Unfortunately, the Blueprint makes no mention of seniors.
Over the past ten years, California has dismantled its safety net for seniors. While the population of seniors grew exponentially, state funding dropped by half (click here for the charts). State funding vanished for many programs, including cornerstones of the Older Californian’s Act. We are talking about services designed to help seniors successfully navigate the challenges of aging so that they can maintain a steady state. Food, caregiver respite, day care, foster grandparents, senior companion, case management, senior employment…the list of cuts and eliminations is stunningly long (click here to see it). Some programs are just barely holding on – at least in some counties – with local and federal funding. But nowhere is there capacity to serve the need.
Why is there no mention of restoring these services in any of the grand plans for California’s turn-around? It can’t be because they are too costly. Returning the Older Californian’s Act budget to its 2006 levels would only take $30 million, a small sum when we are looking at putting aside a $2 billion surplus for fiscal 2014/15. It can’t be because seniors don’t contribute to the Blueprint priorities of expanding opportunities for California’s families, investing in education, reducing poverty and investing in jobs…See foster grandparents, caregiver respite, day care and senior employment in the previous paragraph.
Certainly we’re in for a lively debate about how California can craft a final budget that reflects our priorities. Let’s just not forget that “our” priorities include those of seniors. I hope you will join me in attending state budget hearings and contacting your legislators to remind them.
Return to the State Budget page.