Saturday, March 5, 2011

Assemblyman Mike Miller: Keep Our Senior Centers Open...

It's budget season - which means that, once again, vital services are in jeopardy to our most vulnerable citizens. Over the past several weeks I have heard concerns from worried senior citizens that their centers are going to be closing. These senior centers give our seniors a place to go, eat, and socialize with other members of the community. When money is cut from these programs, these services are put in serious jeopardy and are at risk. 

We needn’t put our seniors in this position every year, and we certainly shouldn’t. There are two sources of funding that can save these services that are not being currently utilized.

First is Title XX funding. Title XX money is a grant given to New York from the federal government. There is mandatory spending ($66 million) on Adult Protective/Domestic Violence Services, and there is discretionary money ($36 million). About $24 million of this discretionary funding is spent on senior centers. In this year’s budget, Governor Cuomo is attempting to take the discretionary Title XX money and use it to cover other state expenditures unrelated to senior programs. This will cost the seniors of New York City around $24 million in cuts. If we were to mandate that the $24 million must be spent on senior services solely, senior centers across the city could remain open and fully operational.

The second source of funding is through member items. Several years ago, each member of the Assembly was allotted a certain amount of money that they could give to the organizations in their communities. This funding allowed civic organizations to operate, services to be provided to the needy, and senior centers to remain open and fully functional. Last year, this funding was completely cut by the Governor. If this funding was restored, every senior center in the City would have multiple sources of revenue and could keep their doors open.

I hope you will join in me in saying enough is enough. It is time to stop playing games with services to our senior citizens. I ask everyone reading this article to reach out to the Governor and ask him to mandate Title XX money for seniors and restore member item funding so we can finally give our seniors the peace of mind they deserve.