Chris Electric

Rep. Deborah Ruggiero’s proposal to establish a state grant program to assist municipalities with their senior centers or programs has been included in the budget proposal submitted by Gov. Gina M. Raimondo yesterday.

Representative Ruggiero (D-Dist. 74, Jamestown, Middletown) has already introduced the legislation, which she also sponsored last year, as a separate bill (2018-H 7098). The proposal would establish a community senior services grant program to provide financial assistance to municipalities and nonprofit organizations that operate senior centers and/or senior programs. The governor’s budget proposal provides $400,000 in funding for the grants in 2019.

“The population of citizens age 65 or older is vastly increasing, and is expected to grow from 152,000 to 247,000 over the course of a decade, to the point where it includes one out of every four Rhode Islanders,” explained Representative Ruggiero. “As demographics shift in Rhode Island, we need to make senior policy issues a priority and focus on the programs and services needed for seniors in the years ahead. This is one way the state can ensure that local communities, particularly those with few resources, are well-equipped to serve the needs of the seniors living within them.”

The grant program would provide financial assistance and incentives to local governments and nonprofit agencies to operate senior centers and other senior services programs that help older residents to remain living in the community. Such services may include outreach, social services, health promotion, physical fitness, recreation, life-long learning, transportation assistance and caregiver support services for persons age 65 and older.

Even though it is part of the budget bill (2018-H 7200), Representative Ruggiero said she does still plan to push for passage of her legislation, as is customary with legislative proposals that are included within budget bills. Her bill is cosponsored by Rep. Susan R. Donovan (D-Dist. 69, Bristol, Portsmouth), Rep. Katherine S. Kazarian (D-Dist.63, East Providence), Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick) and Rep. Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport).

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