AUSTIN, Texas – More than three-quarters (76 percent) of AARP members in Texas oppose cuts to health and human services – including long-term care services for older persons – while two-thirds (66 percent) say the state should tap into the Rainy Day Fund to help remedy the current budget shortfall, according to a survey released today by the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.

This week, AARP Texas officials held a briefing for members and staff of the Senate Finance Committee and House Appropriations Committee on the results of the survey.

“We are listening to our members carefully on the most critical issues facing our state today,” said Bob Jackson, AARP Texas state director. “One thing they are telling us in large numbers is that we cannot cut crucial services to older Texans.”

Of those surveyed, 76 percent said they oppose cutting health and human services – including long-term care services for older persons – to balance the state budget; while only 15 percent were in favor and 8 percent said they were not sure.

The survey of 1,501 AARP members ages 50 and older has a sampling error or 2.5 percent. This age group represented 58 percent of Texas voters in 2010. Of the respondents, 48 percent characterized their political views as “conservative” while 32 percent labeled their views as “moderate” and 9 percent considered their views to be ”liberal.”

On the question of using the Rainy Day Fund, most AARP members want state legislators to use some or all of the fund. Only 25 percent of AARP members did not favor its use while 9 percent said they did not know. Of the 66 percent who did favor using the fund, three-quarters said they would use half or more of the $9 billion available. Another 19 percent said they would use “some portion” of the fund.

AARP members surveyed highly value funding for education, health and infrastructure. They ranked education for kindergarten through 12th grades as the top budget priority for Texas legislators (41 percent) while health and human services – including long-term care services for older persons – came in as the second priority with 28 percent. Transportation, construction and maintenance for roads, bridges and mass transit were ranked third at 9 percent.

Also on Wednesday, AARP released a separate survey of randomly-selected Texas residents ages 50 or older conducted in January. This survey found that 90 percent of respondents considered staying in their own homes as they get older to be ”extremely important” (43 percent) or “very important” (47 percent), which is exactly what current state-supported long-term care services help support.

This general Texas survey – with a sampling error of 5 percent – was part of a larger sampling of 29,000 adults reached by phone in the fifty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Overwhelmingly, Texans (85 percent) think it’s important to have access to quality long-term care for themselves or family members. Specifically, 46 percent said it is “extremely important” and 39 percent said it is “very important.” Yet most Texans (61 percent) also expressed concern about being able to pay for long-term care.  

AARP is concerned about that state-proposed cuts to Medicaid providers would further stress Texas nursing homes and compromise quality, with possibly dangerous consequences for patients. Rather than weakening our nursing homes, more than 4 out of 5 (83 percent) of Texans surveyed “strongly support” (60 percent) or “somewhat support” (23 percent) strengthening the enforcement of quality standards for nursing homes in Texas.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50-plus have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates.