In response to a large number of inquiries about how Question 1 on the Massachusetts November 4th ballot could affect services to elders, caregivers and their families, Old Colony Elderly Services, Inc. (OCES) has compiled valuable information to help voters make an educated decision. OCES is a private, non-profit Aging Services Access Point (ASAP) that provides valuable programs and services to seniors, their families and caregivers in the Plymouth county, Avon, Easton and Stoughton area.
Question 1 proposes a law to reduce the state personal income tax rate to 2.65% as of January 1, 2009 and to eliminate the tax beginning January 1, 2010. A “yes” vote will enact these reductions; a “no” vote will make no change to the state’s income tax laws.
OCES employs 130 staff and provides services to more than 4,600 elders, caregivers and families each month. These services include home health aide, personal care and medical transportation that are vital to many home-bound, frail elders in our communities. In addition, every month we respond to more than 600 inquiries for information and referral, perform 150 long-term care screenings and deliver approximately 23,000 lunches through the meals-on-wheels program.
According to most reports, the income tax produces $12.5 billion, or 40%, of the entire state budget. If OCES’ budget is reduced by 40%, we will be forced to decrease services to some of our most vulnerable citizens and eliminate jobs. This could mean that 1,800 elders will lose home care services, 9,000 meals will not be delivered and at least 50 employees will lose their jobs.
Elders already impacted by the high costs of fuel and food are wondering how they will manage on fixed incomes. The workforce is trying to balance these costs too while watching their commuting costs increase and their savings and home values decrease. With state funding to cities and towns reduced, localities may raise property taxes and impose other fees, thereby placing another burden on homeowners – including elders and others on fixed incomes.
According to analysis by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, the estimated 40% budget reduction is too low. They contend that “after accounting for five legally mandated programs, the rest of state government would bear across-the-board cuts of 71.1% with the loss of $12.5 billion in state income tax revenue”. Private, non-profit agencies like OCES will be unable to continue providing needed human services after that level of funding cut.
“I urge registered voters to learn all they can about the impacts of Question 1 so they may make informed decisions before casting their votes on November 4th,” said Diana L. DiGiorgi, Executive Director of OCES.
To read the full version of this proposed law and the other 2 ballot questions, visit www.mass.gov and click on the Secretary of State’s page, select Elections Division and then 2008 Statewide Ballot Questions.
About Old Colony Elderly Services
Incorporated in 1974, Old Colony Elderly Services (OCES) is one of 27 private, non-profit Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
OCES serves elders, their families and caregivers in the towns of Abington, Avon, Bridgewater, Brockton, Carver, Duxbury, East Bridgewater, Easton, Halifax, Hanover, Hanson, Kingston, Lakeville, Marshfield, Middleboro, Pembroke, Plymouth, Plympton, Rockland, Stoughton, Wareham, West Bridgewater and Whitman.
The organization’s mission is to provide services that support the dignity and independence of elders by helping them maximize their quality of life; live safely and in good health; and, prevent unnecessary or premature institutionalization.
The agency has 130 employees and operates more than 12 programs serving elders, their families and caregivers. For more information call (508) 584-1561 or visit the website at oc-elderly.org