(Modesto, CA) – Dozens of local seniors converged today in front of Senator Anthony Canella’s Modesto office to show the far-ranging and deep impact billions of dollars in state budget cuts have already had on grandparents and elderly members of our community. The group urged Canella, Sen. Tom Berryhill and other Valley legislators to join them in supporting Governor Brown’s balanced approach to closing the state budget gap in order to avoid deeper cuts that will hurt Californians, especially seniors.
“The generation I come from is strong, and we never thought we’d have to ask for help,” said Jenny Kenoyer, a Modesto senior. “Yet so many older women who have always been the backbone of our families and communities now struggle to get by on Social Security spousal benefits or small SSI/SSP checks. Some are still working in their 70s and 80s, but if we keep dismantling our support system, what will happen to them when they can no longer work?”
Kenoyer, a retired nurse, local aging commissioner and ombudsperson for nursing home residents was one of a brigade of seniors who delivered to the senators’ offices large photos of local seniors who have been hit from every direction, along with stories of how the cuts have affected them. The following are some of the impacts budget cuts already made have had on California seniors:
- 7.7 million Californians will feel the effects of higher premiums, caps on doctor’s visits, and fewer providers through the Medi-Cal program.
- 1.1 million seniors and people with disabilities will absorb cuts in cash payments for food and rent. These SSI/SSP benefits have already lost one third of their purchasing power over the last two decades.
- 43,000 Californians who need access to home care to stay safe at home may lose this critical service.
Riverbank senior David Tucker said he worries about the kind of California the next generation will inherit if California cuts back on support today’s seniors rely on to live in dignity. “California is the most productive and innovative place on the planet. There is no doubt we can afford to ensure our seniors live in dignity.” The only question, Tucker said, “is whether our leaders will respect our seniors with a budget that maintains existing revenues.”
The Modesto seniors, caregivers and their families who spoke out today join a growing list of Californians who have put aside their differences to support Governor Brown’s plan to close the state’s budget gap. Educators, parents, business owners and families of all backgrounds recognize a balanced approach is needed to protect jobs and move California’s economic recovery forward. The Governor’s plan includes cuts already signed into law which will start to go into effect in the coming weeks. The plan also includes a proposal to maintain existing revenues.