Hundreds of New York City senior citizens will converge at the Emigrant Savings Bank building at 49-51 Chambers Street this Friday for the New York City Council Committee on Aging public budget hearing.
The seniors are opposing $39 million in cuts to their services, including Mayor Bloomberg’s plans to close seventeen more senior centers citywide (in addition to the twenty-six that were closed in 2010), and to significantly reduce services in the remaining centers.
The cuts are in addition to $50 million the mayor already cut from the Department for the Aging over the past three years—a cumulative total of about $90 million, a whopping 50% budget cut to senior services.
Such services could end up costing the city more in the long run. For example, consider that taxpayers will end up supplementing costs for nursing home replacements, unless the mayor is planning to simply kick out seniors onto the streets, which will be free.
New York isn’t the only state where retirees are fighting back against austerity. In Maine, retired state workers and teachers rallied at the State House on Wednesday to protest changes to their pension benefits proposed by Governor LePage.
LePage’s proposal includes freezing cost of living increases for retired teachers and state workers for three years and reducing the cap on increases from 4 percent to 2 percent. The governor is also proposing about $200 million in tax cuts.
Jackie Roach of Oakland, who retired in 1994 after 38 years as a teacher, urged the crowd to call lawmakers and tell them to reject the proposed budget changes.
“It’s wrong for Gov. LePage to pay for his tax breaks for Maine’s wealthiest residents by cutting the pensions of Maine’s retired workers,” she said.
Seniors in Florida are enduring a particularly vicious assault from Governor Scott as they face millions of dollars in state budget cuts. Facilities are set for $187.5 million in cuts in addition to $2.1 billion in Medicare funding reductions over the next ten years.
Scott also issued significant cuts to hot meals programs that provide food to many of Miami’s most needy seniors, in addition to other cuts to homeless veterans, a council for deafness, a children’s hospital, cancer research, public radio, whooping-cough vaccines for poor mothers and aid for the paralyzed, all while requesting $30 million in corporate tax cuts.
These kinds of cuts will be devastating for seniors, according to the Coalition to Protest Senior Care.
Seventy percent of the funding lost would’ve paid staff salaries, forcing nursing homes to make tough decisions about their operating budgets once the cuts go into effect July 1.
Most of the staff positions on the line at certified nursing assistants like Palm Garden CNA Sheryle Chambers, who admits she’s more than just a nurses aid for residents when they move in.
“Because a lot of them come and drop them off and never see them again. So, we’re the family members they see on a daily basis,” she said. “The residents are going to suffer,
It is in large part because of these types of policies that Scott is currently one of the least popular governors in the United States, which may be why he’s taken to kicking out political opponents of his budget signing ceremonies.
Scott’s cronies consider the signing of public budgets “private events,” which is why Russ Abrams, a $60,000-a-year special assistant to Scott instructed a deputy to remove a group of Democrats from the signing.