Program: Community services

Appropriation:

Federal Funds:

$20,220,300

GF/GP:

$15,065,800

Total:

$35,286,100

Program Description:

This appropriation funds programs that distribute money to Area Agencies on Aging in various parts of the state. It includes money for in-home services to the elderly; community services such as health education and training, recreational programs, homemaker and counseling programs, housing repair, and legal assistance. It also includes disease prevention efforts for the elderly poor.

Recommended Action:

This funding should be eliminated. The program is an example of how the state crowds out private effort and weakens the bonds that naturally link people together on a voluntary basis. Michiganians help the elderly, conduct house repair, and provide legal assistance voluntarily every day. Pro bono representation is a long and honored tradition in the legal profession. (Loosening restrictions on what is considered the "Unauthorized Practice of Law" could help as well. As Mackinac Center scholar George C. Leef has argued, repealing unauthorized practice of law restrictions would benefit the poor most. [14]) Unions in the building trades could offer housing repair services for free or at a reduced cost as a public service. Religious institutions and self-help groups offer counseling at nominal costs, or even free of charge. Privately organized people can meet the needs of the vulnerable even more if the burdens of the regulatory and political state are lessened. Savings: $35,286,100. Governor Granholm’s 2005 proposal decreases the gross appropriation to $34,904,200.

Program: Nutrition services

Appropriation:

Federal Funds:

$26,743,900

Special Revenue Funds:

$167,000

GF/GP:

$11,280,300

Total:

$38,191,200

Program Description:

This appropriation funds nutrition services programs. These programs provide funding to Area Agencies on Aging for the delivery of hot meals, nutrition education, and administration.

Recommended Action:

This program should be eliminated. Community groups, families and individuals could shoulder these burdens free of the bureaucracy and regulatory apparatus of government. This is an example of how the state crowds out private effort and weakens the bonds that naturally link people together on a voluntary basis. Savings: $38,191,200. Governor Granholm’s 2005 proposal decreases the gross appropriation to $37,290,300.

Program: Senior volunteer services

Appropriation:

All from GF/GP:

$5,645,900

Total:

$5,645,900

Program Description:

This appropriation funds senior volunteer services. Funding from this appropriation goes through the Area Agencies on Aging, to support volunteering and to financially reward volunteers. In the Senior Companion Program, seniors provide 20 hours a week of care to adults in need, and are paid a stipend in return. The Foster Grandparent Program is a similar program aimed at serving children. The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program supports senior citizen volunteers generally.

Recommended Action:

This program should be eliminated. There may be no better example of how the multiple and varied spending plans of government compete with and crowd out what has historically been normal human interaction. Paying people to volunteer, while not unique to this department, is an affront to the notion of volunteering, charitable service, and civil society. Savings: $5,645,900. Governor Granholm’s 2005 proposal leaves this appropriation unchanged over the previous year’s budget.

Program: Senior citizen centers staffing and equipment

Appropriation:

All from GF/GP:

$1,068,700

Total:

$1,068,700

Program Description:

This appropriation funds senior citizen centers’ staffing and equipment. Senior centers provide information about the low-income energy-assistance program, Medicaid, nursing homes, food stamps, and a variety of other government programs and social services. The money from this allocation supplements the budgets for those centers, which receive public and private support.

Recommended Action:

This program should be eliminated. Responsibility for funding these services should belong to the private sector. While social interaction does help promote general health and well being, the state is stepping outside its appropriate sphere by funding self-help volunteer organizations. Any number of fraternal organizations, such as the Eagles, Elks and Masons, as well as veterans groups, religious groups and clubs, not to mention families and friends, are available to help seniors. Many senior services are performed through non-profit organizations under government contract. Some already solicit private support. [15] Savings: $1,068,700. Governor Granholm’s 2005 proposal leaves this appropriation unchanged over the previous year’s budget.

Program: Respite care program

Appropriation:

All from Special Revenue Funds:

$7,100,000

Total:

$7,100,000

Program Description:

This appropriation funds programs that provide respite for caregivers working with elderly persons who need around-the-clock assistance. While the funds are technically classified as "restricted" and "tobacco settlement" revenue, these funds could be redirected to the General Fund.

Recommended Action:

This line item should be eliminated for the same reasons addressed in previous respite care line items, found above. Savings: $7,100,000. Governor Granholm’s 2005 proposal increases the gross appropriation to $7,600,000.