Last year, I became a caregiver for someone who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, an incurable disorder of the central nervous system. If I weren’t helping this person cope with the disease at home, care would be needed in an institutional setting – costing state taxpayers three times more money.
The state pays poverty-level wages for the care I provide. I can barely support myself as a single person and cannot save anything for retirement. My financial prospects are depressing and scary.
Last year, the state agreed to provide caregivers like me with a modest 23-cents-per-hour contribution to a retirement trust fund. This would offer some encouragement to workers who care for vulnerable seniors and individuals with developmental disabilities in communities all over our state.
Now, Senate Republicans want the state to go back on its word and not allow any of the funds set aside for a new contract to go into a retirement trust fund. Their message is, “You can never retire!”
Home-care workers like me are holding up our end of the bargain: working hard and saving the state money. Olympia should keep its word and help home-care workers retire with dignity.