I write as the executive director of the Community of Vermont Elders (COVE), an organization that has represented older Vermonters’ interests on the state level for more than three decades. Given the economic realities of today, many older Vermonters struggle to live lives with dignity and respect in which their basic needs are met and they have an opportunity to enjoy the later part of their lives.
Older Vermonters, especially those who are more economically challenged, were heartened by the budget the legislature passed this session. The budget includes a two percent increase in funding for such home- and community-based long-term care services such as Meals on Wheels, home health, adult day services, and area agencies on aging; expansion of LIHEAP, the federal fuel assistance program; and significant pay increases for workers at Vermont’s community mental health agencies, a long-underfunded service that benefits many older citizens.
We at COVE are concerned that if Gov. Phil Scott vetoes the budget because of an unrelated issue, his action could threaten the health and welfare of older Vermonters across the state. A veto could either delay or reduce the important advances the fiscal year 2018 budget makes. Consequently, we hope that the governor can see fit to allow this budget to move forward and work on other priorities through a different mechanism, one that won’t have such potentially dramatic negative impacts on older Vermonters.
Gini Mickey, Executive Director, Community of Vermont Elders, Montpelier