May is Older Americans Month. This year's theme, Safe Today, Healthy Tomorrow, focuses on injury prevention that emphasizes helping older adults stay active. This is timely as we are witnessing an increase in the number of adults reaching retirement age who are remaining strong and active for longer than ever before.
The Illinois Department on Aging serves as an advocate for older adults and their caregivers by administering programs that help older adults live independently in their homes and communities. Without services to assist, many of our most vulnerable would be have few choices to remain independent and would find themselves forced to live in nursing home facilities. Without question, services delivered to older adults' homes in their communities cost the state far less than nursing home services.
Illinois legislators are debating Gov. Pat Quinn's budget proposal that calls for maintaining the current state income tax rate. Those who say Illinois can tax less and spend less while still providing vital services and critical care for older adults are not telling the truth. Programs such as the Community Care Program, Adult Protective Services, and Home Delivered Meals account for more than 95 percent of the department's general revenue fund budget. Without that revenue from the current income tax rate, many of the state's critical services will face radical cuts, and the backlog of bills will increase.
If action is not taken to retain our current income tax rate, the reality is that effective July 1, extreme cuts will be imposed. These cuts could mean we'd lose in-home caregivers for 21,000 older adults. We urge legislators to vote to retain the current income tax rate. The governor's plan protects families including the more than 2 million residents 60 years or older who call Illinois their home.
John K. Holton
Illinois Department on Aging