New Lt. Governor makes first funding request

Yesterday, newly sworn in Lieutenant Governor Glenn McConnell presented the budget for his office to the Finance Subcommittee on Health and Human Services. His major request to the subcommittee was that the Office of Aging be separated from the Lieutenant Governor’s Office. The General Fund should pay for constitutional core functions, he argued, not for an office that deals primarily in federal money. The Lieutenant Governor’s total budget, about $36 million in 2013, is composed of roughly $26 million in Federal Funds and $10 million in General and Other Funds. The total budget of the Lieutenant Governor’s Office is largely committed to the Office of Aging, with a few other administrative costs.

The Lieutenant Governor’s request raises an interesting problem. The official stated mission of the Office on Aging is to administer federal money received through Older Americans Act. The Lieutenant Governor’s mission, by contrast, is to . . . well, that’s the problem. The Lieutenant Governor isn’t a part of the governor’s administration, and he has no special non-ceremonial duties apart from moderating Senate debates and becoming governor in the event the chief executive dies or is removed from office.

Moreover, the state already has multiple agencies drawing down federal dollars to fund programs similar, if not identical, to those administered by the Office on Aging. These include home delivered and congregate meals, transportation, home care services, social adult day care services, respite, and health promotion.

The question of whether the state really needs a separate Office on Aging – that is, whether its responsibilities can profitably be merged with those of other agencies – wasn’t discussed. Nor was the question of whether the state really needs a separately elected Lieutenant Governor.

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