Governor’s plan would shift $17 million to child care services
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A budget proposal by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to transfer $17 million in state funds from senior citizens’ programs to child care initiatives around New York state was met with disbelief from two Republican elected officials in Brooklyn, who called on the governor to leave funding for older adults intact.
State Sen. Marty Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-Southwest Brooklyn) and state Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis both blasted the move by the governor, charging that it could threaten the existence of scores of senior citizen centers in New York City.
Golden, the former chairman of the Aging Committee, and Malliotakis called on the governor to keep the funding in place for senior citizen programs.
“I agree that we need more money for childcare services but we must not adversely impact New York's senior population and the services they deserve,” Golden said in a statement. “I will not vote for any budget that does not financially support important senior services and vital childcare services.
Under Cuomo’s proposed $152.3 billion state budget, $17 million in Title XX funding would be shifted from senior citizen programs to child care.
The budget will be negotiated between Cuomo and leaders of the state Senate and Assembly. The final version of the budget is due on April 1.
“It is outrageous that despite this year's budget increasing, Gov. Cuomo is looking to shortchange seniors by diverting funding for senior centers. I will not stand aside while senior centers in my community risk seeing their doors closed. These seniors have spent their entire lives paying taxes and building our community, and government has an obligation to ensure that their needs are properly met,” Malliotakis stated.
It’s crucial that Bay Ridge centers remain fully funded, according to senior citizen advocates, who pointed out that 20 percent of the neighborhood’s population consists of adults over the age of 60.
Bay Ridge is also a Naturally Occurring Retirement Community, or NORC, defined as a place where senior citizens have settled decades ago, stayed put to raise their families and are now aging in place rather than resettling in retirement communities in Florida.
The Bay Ridge Center, a senior citizens program at 6935 Fourth Ave., includes information on NROCs on its website, bayridgecenter.org.
“In these communities, supportive service programs are put in place to address the growing needs of the elderly as they continue to age. From activities for the elderly to participate in to offering crucial and accessible health services, educational activities and trips, NORCs provide critical services that help keep the aging population in their residences longer,” a statement on the website reads.
In 2016, Councilmember Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) secured funding for the Bay Ridge Center to conduct a Needs Assessment Survey of senior citizens in the neighborhood.
The governor’s proposed Title XX funding transfer would have a huge negative impact on the city, Caryn Resnick, deputy commissioner of the Department for the Aging, told Politico.
Resnick estimated that the agency would have to close at least 65 senior centers. “It’s pretty dramatic. Sixty-five centers is about a third or 30 percent of the senior centers,” she told Politico.
Lawmakers all over Brooklyn are mounting a fight on behalf of older adults.
As the Brooklyn Eagle reported on Feb. 22, state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-Brooklyn Heights-Carroll Gardens-Cobble Hill) recently toured senior centers in his district to organize older adults to fight the proposed budget cuts.
“I’m here because I really need your help,” Squadron told seniors at the St. Charles Jubilee Senior Center in Brooklyn Heights. The center is run by Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens.
Cuomo’s staff maintained that the proposed funding shift would not impact negatively on senior centers.
“We are directing Title XX funds to child care while increasing total funding to New York City by $400 million,” Morris Peters, a spokesman for the New York State Budget Division, told Politico.