SPRINGFIELD, ILL. - Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today proposed a fiscal year 2004 General Revenue Fund (GRF) budget of $263 million for the Illinois Department on Aging, a 3.4 percent increase over the agency’s FY 03 GRF appropriation.
The proposed budget will preserve programs that provide essential services to vulnerable seniors so they may continue to live in their own homes.
In addition, the budget will support the rate increase for homemakers and adult day care service providers that became effective Jan. 1, 2003. Continued funding for the Department on Aging programs is being offset by a reduction in the agency’s administrative spending for FY 04.
“Restrictions on program funding for the department’s budget have been absorbed through lower spending with no reductions in services,” said Illinois Department on Aging Director Charles D. Johnson. “Services that protect the independence of seniors will remain fully funded because they are cost-effective and absolutely imperative to the quality of life of older adults in Illinois.”
The total budget for the Department is $330.2 million. The state’s portion of the overall spending plan is $263 million, which includes $233.2 million for the Community Care Program (CCP). This program provides homemaker services, adult day services and case management services to eligible individuals 60 years of age and older through a network of community-based providers. The CCP serves an average of 40,000 clients per month. The 50-cent-an-hour rate increase effective Jan. 1, 2003, for homemakers and adult day service workers will continue in FY 04.
“I am very pleased the 50-cent-an-hour increase will be maintained,” said Johnson, “because we need to keep the workforce for seniors viable.”
The budget also includes $7.2 million for the statewide Elder Abuse and Neglect Program, which will allow the department to respond to an estimated 8,433 reports of abuse and neglect during the fiscal year.
The department’s spending authority under the federal Older Americans Fund is $66.1 million.
Most of this money is distributed to Area Agencies on Aging and to local agencies that provide meals, transportation, information, assistance, legal services and other community-based programs to more than 530,000 seniors.
The budget includes $6.6 million from the General Revenue Fund for home-delivered meals. These funds, combined with more than $21.6 million in Older Americans Act funds, local funds and client contributions are projected to serve nearly 45,000 frail older persons with almost 6.9 million meals in the coming year.
This year, the department will receive $5.8 million for the National Family Caregiver Support Program to provide family caregivers and grandparents raising grandchildren with information, assistance, and supportive services such as respite.
The governor emphasized that making prescription drugs more affordable to seniors will remain one of his top priorities. He directed the department to use $1 million in tobacco settlement funds to continue its efforts to educate seniors and their caregivers about assistance in paying for prescription medications, including the state’s Circuit Breaker/Pharmaceutical Assistance Program and Illinois SeniorCare, as well as available private prescription discounts.
In a cost-saving measure, Gov. Blagojevich reduced Department staffing by 10 percent, from 126 to 114.