It was in early February that Governor Greitens unveiled a budget plan that proposed saving $52 million by changing the eligibility standards for home and community-based services. As a result, approximately 20,000 seniors and disabled Missourians would no longer qualify for state-funded care. House leaders responded by working toward a solution that would provide funding for the programs during a difficult budget year.
The legislation approved this week would create the Missouri Senior Services Protection Fund to provide funding for services to low-income seniors and disable persons. To provide the funding, the legislation, sponsored by Budget Chair Fitzpatrick, ends the renter’s portion of the senior citizens property tax credit. The change would generate up to $56 million in funds that would be used to help provide health care services to Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens.
In difficult budget years, tough decisions need to be made. Along with making difficult choices, having flexibility is a necessity. In essence, the Missouri Senior Services Protection Fund was created to provide funding for services that help Missouri’s most vulnerable. This will be funded by eliminating the circuit breaker tax credit and giving the savings to Missourians who need it most. This was a difficult decision, but in tough times, flexibility is a necessity.
The change will return the credit to its intended purpose of providing property tax relief for seniors so they can afford to stay in their homes. The Senior Services Protection Fund will allow the state to reinvest money to more effectively serve low-income seniors and disabled Missourians. Important to note, the change will not diminish Missouri’s commitment to its most vulnerable citizens, and will instead ensure those who need care the most will receive it.