Commentary by Janice Ayres: Remembering why Gov. Guinn was great
For the Nevada Appeal
I ran into Dema Guinn over the Fourth of July holiday at Adele’s and I let her know how heartbroken I was over Kenny’s untimely death and how much we missed him. Dema was her beautiful gracious self but I have never seen such sad eyes. Kenny was her everything and it shows.
Speaking of Kenny Guinn then, he was one of the most outstanding governors this state has ever had. He had vision, courage and understood the ‘big picture.’ He never made his decisions based on party politics, but always considered what was best for Nevada, and if his party didn’t like it, well too bad.
Kenny Guinn was also the most accessible governor. You could actually talk to him and he listened. I remember when the Master Tobacco Settlement Funds Agreement was reached for Nevada and Kenny announced that he would see to it that some funds would be put aside for Millennium Scholarships for high school seniors with a B+ average who wanted to go to college but couldn’t because they came from poor families who didn’t have the money.
What a great idea, I thought. Then I thought again, why not put some of these funds aside for poor seniors at their end-of-life time to live out their lives with some dignity, a roof over their head in their own home, and staying out of costly institutions they dread. I laid out a plan that Kenny Guinn thought was great because it saved the state (taxpayers) a ton of money in institutionalized care and kept seniors home where they were happiest and healthiest for a fraction of the cost by utilizing volunteer programs such as RSVP to give the seniors that little extra help to remain at home.
Guinn got his plan through the legislature and the funding went to the then Division for Aging Services to award grants to non-profits and other state and local government agencies to help seniors remain at home and out of institutions. They were called Independent Living Grants (ILG’s) and are still being utilized today. Several politicians have tried to take these funds away to plug up holes in the state budget, but so far it hasn’t happened.
That’s not to say it won’t, but to quote our Nevada Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford in a budget meeting where I was testifying for seniors, “Isn’t it a pity that we have a state statute that protects funds to institutionalize seniors, but don’t have one that protects funds (ILG’s) that keep seniors at home”? I agree.
Well, the legislature is gone and now we have Washington D.C. to cope with, the special election here in September and the general election in 2012. That should produce enough political fodder. Here’s a good one. Look up politician in your Webster’s. Definition: A person primarily interested in political office for selfish or other narrow use or short sighted reason.
Wow! Let the games begin. Stay Tuned!
• Janice Ayres is president of Nevada Senior Corps Association.