Are You Part Of The “Sandwich Generation?”
Legislative column from Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua)
January 29, 2010
Millions of Americans are now finding themselves financially squeezed from two directions: caring for children and their adult parents, simultaneously facing double the crushing costs in a very tough economy that has forced many to re-think, re-size and cut back on the simple pleasures. Families facing this dilemma are now being described as belonging to the “sandwich generation,” a relatively new phrase coined to match the challenging economic times we live in and how people are “sandwiched” between expenses. This term is especially applicable to “Baby Boomers,” – the nearly 80 million Americans born between 1946 to 1964 – many of whom now find themselves caring for elderly parents. Many New Yorkers already know about the financial challenges that come with raising children while caring for an aging or ailing parent. In fact, the percentage of people over the age of 75 residing in nursing homes has actually declined from 9.6 percent in 1985 to 6.4 percent in 2004, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). This decline in nursing home population translates into more elderly parents living with their adult children, which puts increased financial pressure on families already paying for tuition and other basic necessities. Add to this the over 800,000 unemployed state residents who are hurting and need help, as well as our taxes and costs of living being among the highest in the country, and you see the scope of the challenges. More than ever, New Yorkers need real solutions to help fix the economy and make our state a more affordable place to live. This is why our Assembly Minority Conference and I are again advancing a non-partisan agenda focused on the pocketbook issues New Yorkers – especially those who find themselves in the aforementioned sandwich generation – want addressed. The following are some highlights of the agenda we will advance during the 2010 Legislative Session. MORE JOBS, RIGHT NOW Without question, our most immediate and pressing concern is fixing New York State’s economy. This includes creating more private sector jobs to get the over 800,000 New Yorkers who are out of work, back to work by implementing a comprehensive statewide economic development program to rebuild New York’s economy, especially upstate. Equally important, we need to reduce energy, transportation, regulatory and workers’ compensation costs to make New York’s economy more financially competitive with the 49 other states. RESTORE FISCAL ACCOUNTABILITY Fiscal accountability includes reducing government spending, delivering real tax relief and putting the brakes on government mandates and regulations that add to the already considerable costs of living and working in New York State. Our agenda seeks to reduce government spending and deliver real tax relief by enacting a state spending cap and a real property tax cap. We also are working to put an end to “generational theft” by banning backdoor borrowing, reducing state debt and requiring government to finally live within its means. Banning all unfunded state mandates that drive up costs for local governments – and property tax bills for local homeowners – is also a key component of our fiscal accountability agenda aimed at reducing the size, cost and reach of state government. REFORM STATE GOVERNMENT TO MAKE NY MORE AFFORDABLE Real reform for our state government requires breaking the virtual stranglehold of the special interests and political insiders who wield too much influence over the budget process that stops fiscally responsible ideas from becoming law. We can achieve real reform by closing legal loopholes and strengthening disclosure requirements for state elected officials, with the goal of making New York’s ethics laws the toughest in our nation. Enactment of initiative and referendum, along with term limits for Legislative Leaders and legislators, also can help break the partisan logjam that can lead to gridlock, inefficiency and the wasting of taxpayer money. Additionally, convening a non-partisan, grassroots “People’s Convention to Reform New York” that empowers citizens to take back their state government through enacting long overdue reforms remains a top government reform priority in 2010 for me and our Assembly Minority Conference. This common sense, non-partisan agenda has the goal of achieving a New York State where families who find they belong to the sandwich generation can keep more of their hard-earned money and, as a result, breathe a little easier from the financial squeeze. As always, constituents wishing to discuss this topic, or any other state-related matter, should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, or e-mail me at email@example.com.