As the June 30th deadline for passing most state budgets draws closer, many decisions will be made about closing budget deficits with cuts in services across the board. The true impact of cuts in services to older and disabled adults will not be known until the budgets are signed by the Governors. Some states are expecting a long hot summer while difficult budget decisions are debated. Expect states with biennial budgets to call special sessions as revenues drop and federal support tapers off.
Here is a brief recap and some resources to use for advocacy efforts:
First, know the numbers. Some of the best global information about the state budget deficits comes from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. This site has all the charts and graphs you might want to check before going to advocate for programs in your state capitol. Budget information at the state level can be found most easily by a google search by state since the title of the department at the state level responsible for the budget varies across the country.
Second, know the facts. The National Center on Caregiving at FCA developed a cheat sheet of facts, statistics and background to use when advocating for caregiver support programs. We even included a chart of the economic value of informal caregiving for each state. “Making the Case: Saving Your State’s Caregiver Support Programs” can be found on the FCA website.
Last, know the trends. Keep up with state and federal policy trends by subscribing to FCA’s Policy Digest – an easy way to remain in the loop for budget and policy trends. You can subscribe by clicking here.
At this point, it is possible that over half of the states will cut services to older and disabled adults in the next fiscal year (2011). The deficits are just that large, revenues are down and state reserve funds and federal support will not be as plentiful. Think it is a done deal? Please think again. Yes, policy makers do count all calls and letters on the issues and budget decisions. If they don’t hear from you, you and your issue will be invisible and easier to cut. Personal stories can move mountains in the policy arena. For you sake and for the well-being of those you care for, make your voice heard today.