News and Events

President’s Point - February 2016

The legacy of Claude Pepper reminds us to fight hard for seniors during every legislative session. From 1929, when Pepper first entered politics, until his death in 1989, he stood up for the rights and worthiness of the elderly. In 1987, his landmark civil rights legislation for older Americans passed and mandatory retirement based on age was prohibited. At the time, Pepper stated, ''Abolishing age discrimination will offer new hope to older workers who are desperate to maintain their independence and dignity."

When you read this, the 2016 Florida legislative session will have been in full swing for at least three weeks, and the fate of at-risk seniors will have fallen squarely in the laps of our elected legislative officials. Budget committees are actively crafting their budgets and it is becoming ever more evident that without the emergence of another Claude Pepper, the plight of our aging population will clearly be of major concern.

The Governor has shared his priorities for 2016. His call for $1B in tax cuts and $250M to incent businesses to relocate in Florida dramatically overshadows his $3.7M budget recommendation to serve seniors on the waiting lists for Community Care for the Elderly and Alzheimer’s Respite Care. Unfortunately, at this suggested funding level only about 300 new seniors will be helped from waiting lists that have skyrocketed to well over 10,000 and will only grow larger as baby boomers continue to age. Our Florida experts on aging feel that ten times that amount will be needed just to help those seniors who are most at risk.

Many of those seniors can’t afford to wait any longer and are in need of immediate help. At ECS we continue to do everything within our power to make sure that none of our seniors are left behind but without substantive increases in funding, there is nothing more we can do. Every one of us must come together to help our legislators realize the severity of the problem. So please, do whatever you can to help raise the volume on this very important issue because older lives do matter!!

And every night before you go to bed, you should ask yourself “What have I done today to lighten the burden on those who suffer?” Hopefully you can say I helped a little and that would make Claude Pepper very proud.

Thank you for everything you do in support of our seniors!!

Mark D. Baldino
Contact me @
baldinom@ecsbigbend.org
(850) 245-5930

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