GIVE SENIORS A CHOICE
Some people label themselves “pro-choice,” and some people label themselves “anti-choice.” But the fact of the matter is, choice is neither “good” nor “bad,” it just depends what the choice is.
Personally, I label myself “choice” – when it comes to helping seniors. I would like to see both – both – the Senior Assistance Program become law, and the Longevity Bonus get funded - but that eligible seniors choose one program or the other, but not both. This choice would be good for seniors, and good for the state, and might even save some money.
The Senior Assistance Program we attempted to debate the other day, but which was sent back to the Rules Committee, is one good solution to assisting needy citizens. A lot of good people worked very hard on that bill, including my good colleague from District 32 – and I would have voted in favor of the bill had I had a chance.
The Senior Assistance Program is a “needs based” program based on perceived needs of seniors. All of us deal with needs every day. That’s why we were elected – in fact, almost everybody who comes into my office expresses a need for something, and that something usually very good, and usually involves money. The Senior Assistance Program is a needs-based program, just like education, just like power cost equalization, just like many other good programs.
The Longevity Bonus is another good program. The Longevity Bonus is a “promised based” program – and please don’t tell me we don’t make promises down here, because we do. As anyone will tell you, if you’re going to be a good legislator your word has to be your bond. In fact, the first promise we made was when we raised our hand and took an oath on the day we took office. The fact of the matter is, a lot of seniors relied – right or wrong - on a promise they thought we made.
Yes, it’s true. Some needy seniors, didn’t qualify for the Longevity Bonus and that doesn’t seem fair. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. But that doesn’t excuse breaking a promise, real or perceived. It reminds me of a book I once read by somebody named Matthew in which the boss paid the same promised wage to folks who worked only a few hours, as he paid to others who worked all day and got the same thing. Was that fair? Whatever, the promise was kept, according to the person who inspired Matthew.
So here’s my recommendation. Enact the Senior Assistance Program and fund the Longevity Bonus. Then have eligible seniors select one program, or the other, but not both. That’s something we need to seriously consider. Choice can be a very good thing.