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Increase Senior Services Funds

Many senior citizens in West Virginia rely on various organizations, many of them dependent themselves on state funding, for important services. They range from hot meals to help with household tasks and even medical care.

Organizations and quasi-government agencies providing the help often work on shoestring budgets. Fortunately, state legislators provided a bit more funding for them last year.

But, noting that increase for senior services was the first in a decade, some involved in providing them say more is needed. If additional funding is not provided, “the services we provide to seniors will be reduced,” Bill Carpenter, president of the West Virginia Directors of Senior and Community Services, told MetroNews.

Part of the problem is that additional money appropriated last year was in the form of a supplement — not an ongoing budget line item.

Carpenter is suggesting that legislators boost funding for senior meal services by about $4.2 million a year.

In the context of the state’s $4 billion-plus general revenue budget, that is not much — less than one-tenth of 1%. Surely lawmakers can come up with that much additional funding for senior services.

If they need to be persuaded, one thing they may want to consider is this: Services such as meal delivery help keep some older West Virginians of limited means in their homes — instead of having to go to nursing facilities that could be costly for the state. A boost in funding for in-home senior services actually could save money for taxpayers.

With Gov. Jim Justice’s help, lawmakers should comb through the budget to find significant additional funding for the agencies serving our senior citizens.

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