Ron Adkins was on the phone Thursday and he was fit to be tied. He’s a former insurance broker, bail bondsman and bar owner from the Cave Spring area. He’s also a landlord and player in Roanoke County Republican politics.
He launched his spiel with “I’m no bleeding-heart liberal,” which is perhaps the understatement of the year. “I’m a Republican and I’m a conservative. But when it comes to people not eating, that’s where I draw the line.”
Adkins and many others around Virginia are incensed by one of 88 amendments that Gov. Bob McDonnell has proposed to the state budget. It would eliminate a $2.5 million appropriation the General Assembly included in the 2013-15 state budget for 15 of Virginia’s 25 regional offices on aging, which provide human services to the state’s homebound seniors.
Furious advocates for seniors have deluged state lawmakers’ offices with phone calls and email about this issue.
“This is by far the most feedback we’ve gotten on any amendment,” said Del. Greg Habeeb, R-Salem. Along with Del. Chris Head, R-Botetourt Co., he was one of the lawmakers who added the extra $2.5 million in senior-agency funding into the budget.
The legislature will vote Monday on that amendment and the others. And hanging in the balance is money for already cash-strapped service agencies.
The appropriation is necessary because of a new formula the Virginia Department for the Aging is using to allocate federal money for senior-service programs. That’s based on the U.S. census count of elderly, poor and minority residents in different parts of the state.
The fact is, the senior citizen population grew in all 25 of Virginia’s senior agency regions. But according the census, it grew more in Northern Virginia than it did elsewhere. So the flow of money has been redirected.
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