Public Comment

New: Senior Programs in Berkeley Threatened by State Senate Bill

By Maris Arnold
Saturday August 03, 2013 - 12:51:00 PM

Planet readers might be interested to know that State Senate Bill 173 completely wipes out funding for all Older Adult Programs in the state after June 2014. These programs are administered through the Adult Schools. The erasure of funds is an attack on Adult Education and is another step to eradicate free public education.

Senate Bill 173 is presently being reviewed in a Special Joint Education Committee of the State Legislature. Both Nancy Skinner and Loni Hancock are on this Committee.

Hancock supports wiping out the Older Adults Program money. Repeated attempts by this writer to find out where Skinner stands have been unanswered by her office.

There is no budget shortfall this year so it’s economically irrational to cut out all funding for the Older Adult programs that provide robust mental and physical exercise programs as well as evidence-based disease prevention workshops that save the state significant MediCal dollars. In that respect, the Older Adult program more than pays for itself. 

It is unfair and unnecessary to betray the trust of active older adults who worked, paid taxes, raised families, volunteered in their communities, and continue to contribute in many areas. By eliminating funding for the Older Adults Programs, respect for older people has gone by the wayside. 

By the way, there was an earlier version of Senate Bill 173 that wiped out funding for the Adults with Disabilities program. However, there was such a community outcry that the funding was restored. 

Senate Bill 173 will be voted on Aug. 14. Please, call Loni Hancock, 510-286-1333 and Nancy Skinner, 510-286-1400 and tell them to amend Senate Bill 173 to include full funding for Older Adult Programs. 

P.S. City of Berkeley has never provided program money for its senior centers which are 95% dependent upon the Older Adults Program. One can’t help wondering if the attempt to cut Older Adults programs and thereby lessen attendance at senior centers is also part of a plan to close the centers and privatize them.