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AARP Calls on Sisolak and State Leaders to Protect Aging Nevadans Amidst Difficult Budget Cuts

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With Nevada's economy, and society, cautiously opening back up again after the COVID-19 shutdown, the very real impacts of closing an economy as large as Nevada's for an extended period of time are now revealing themselves.

Nevada had the highest unemployment rate in the country at over 30% during the height of the shutdown, and many of Nevada's small businesses remain on life support or many have shuttered due to the economic impact resulting from the global pandemic.

For aging Nevadans, many who depend on home-based services and community-based services, the present and future are of equal concern as the State faces a projected budget shortfall of over $800 million. Many of the services they depend on could soon be cut or curtailed. Already the most decimated group impacted by COVID-19, aging neighbors and friends, and their families, could be hit hard once again by necessary State budget cuts.

In order for your voice to be heard, AARP Nevada State Director Maria Moore sent the following letter to Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak and the two majority leaders of the state legislature. The purpose was to remind Sisolak and our elected state officials of the need to protect and preserve as many of these programs as possible to minimize the impact on the already hard-hit aging community in Nevada.

Here is the text of the letter. Please look for an email soon from us so you can let your State representative know we need to protect Nevada's most vulnerable as these tough choices are made.

Letter from AARP Nevada to Governor Steve Sisolak:

Dear Governor Sisolak, Speaker Frierson and Majority Leader Cannizzaro:

AARP Nevada, on behalf of our 344,000 members and all older Nevadans throughout our state, appreciates the efforts you have made to address the unprecedented public health and economic crisis facing Nevada and the entire nation. We are encouraged that these important efforts will continue as you work together to finalize Nevada’s fiscal year 2021 budget.

Older Nevadans and their families have been particularly hard-hit by both the health and financial impacts of this pandemic. They have endured unprecedented deaths, illness, and isolation, especially those who reside in long-term care facilities. To help them continue to safely shelter in place, many remain in need of home care assistance, as well as help with their rent, utilities, and mortgage. The gravity of the present situation, at this time and into the future, requires Nevada’s policymakers to act decisively to enact a budget that both mitigates the public health and financial impacts created by COVID-19, and creates a path to recovery in our state.

To that end, we urge you to continue full funding for Nevada’s Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS), including both Medicaid HCBS and state-funded HCBS. These services have become even more essential in the face of the pandemic to help our older residents and those with disabilities take care of themselves in their own homes for as long as possible. For the fiscal year 2021, in particular, funding for HCBS is both fiscally and morally wise. HCBS ultimately saves our state and taxpayers money in the long-term because these services decrease reliance on costly institutional care. They also help our most vulnerable shelter at home, providing them a level of safety and security that we have seen lacking in our nation’s long-term care facilities. State funding directed to HCBS also pays the wages of numerous home care workers, keeping them employed and redirecting money into our state economy.

Moreover, as you grapple with our expected budget deficit, AARP Nevada urges you to evaluate all potential revenue-raising options prior to making budget cuts that would undermine the ability of Nevada’s older and lower-income individuals and families to recover from the health and fiscal challenges created by the pandemic. We do not believe our state should balance its budget at the expense of those residents who can least afford it.

We also encourage you to consider whether diversifying Nevada’s tax base would be appropriate and necessary to help our state raise the revenue it needs to invest in our residents and small businesses to fuel our economic recovery. A diversity of progressive tax strategies, including those that ensure that our businesses and corporations pay their fair share for the services and infrastructure they rely on, would help to create an adequate, equitable, and efficient revenue stream for our state’s economic well-being and continued growth.

AARP Nevada will continue working with our members to ensure they understand how the fiscal year 2021 budget addresses the needs of those 50 and older and their families. In addition, we are committed to working with all of our state's policymakers on balanced approaches to addressing our budget deficit so that Nevada can continue providing critical programs and services and ensuring financial security and economic opportunity for all.

Sincerely,
Maria Moore AARP Nevada State Director

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