CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The group representing senior centers in West Virginia has joined a chorus of groups hoping they get a break in a very tight state budget year.
West Virginia Directors of Senior and Community Services said this week Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s plan to cut senior services by $1.6 million would “handcuff” senior centers. It’s a 7.5 percent cut.
Director Jennifer Gibson said the cuts would mostly impact senior center nutrition programs and transportation.
“We’ll have to call people and say, ‘No, we can’t take you this meal anymore today and no we can’t transport you to the doctor, the pharmacy or the grocery store,’” Gibson said.
There are currently waiting lists for those services.
“We can’t even serve all of the people who need these services and if the recommended budget goes through, then we’re going to have to even cut back on the people that are getting services already,” Gibson said.
The directors group said its services actually save the state money because getting seniors good meals and taking them to the doctor can help cut down on Medicaid costs.
The governor and state lawmakers are working to finalize the budget for next fiscal year. Gov. Tomblin has reduced revenue estimates for next fiscal year by more than $36 million. Gibson said she realizes the current situation but the state’s oldest residents should receive serious consideration.
“We want to make sure our state’s fiscal responsibilities are met but at the same time the legislature really needs to look at what are the priorities,” she said.
The senior centers receive funding through the state Bureau of Senior Services. The agency also had a 7.5 percent budget cut in the current state budget.