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AARP Montana Teams Up to Analyze the Future of Aging in Montana

AARP is teaming up with One Montana and Montana State University’s Burton K. Wheeler Center for Public Policy to examine the subject of aging in Montana during a conference this fall in Helena.

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The conference, titled "The Graying of Montana," will bring opinion leaders, elected officials, leading economists, decision-makers, public policy officials, aging professionals and members of the public together to examine the future of aging in Montana. One of the featured speakers will be Robert Romasco, AARP National President.

The conference will be held Colonial Inn – Helena, and satellite locations around the state, Sept. 10, 6:30-9pm and Sept. 11, 7:30 am-4pm. The registration deadline is Sept. 6 and the cost is $35 which includes breakfast, lunch and materials. Find more information and register online.

Leading MSU and UM economists will present their newest findings on the “Graying of Montana” and what the state will look like in 2030. Other speakers will address issues around healthcare, education, workforce development and rural-urban challenges, to name a few.

As Montana’s population rapidly gets older and rural communities continue to shrink, what will Montana's population look like in 2030, and how will policymakers prepare for the impacts of significant demographic change?

Additionally, how might Montana's workforce change and how can the private sector prepare for and take advantage of any changes ahead? How might tax revenues be affected by an aging population? What information will policymakers need for discussions around the funding of education, transportation, corrections and healthcare? These are just some of the questions this conference will address.

Another major focus of the conference will spotlight the recent findings of a coalition of Montana University System economists regarding Montana's steadily aging population and changing demographics.

The U.S. will become much older in coming decades as the “Baby Boom” generation reaches traditional retirement age. Montana is likely to age even faster – indeed, it is forecast to become the 4th oldest state by 2015.

Professors Patrick Barkey, Director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana in Missoula and Professor George Haynes, Agricultural Policy Specialist/Extension Economist at Montana State University will describe how aging will occur in various Montana counties and discuss some of the ways that an aging population will affect state and local government finances in Montana. On the revenue side, income taxes may fall as Baby Boomers retire. On the expenditure side, state and local governments pay for a variety of services for the elderly including some health care and nursing homes. Expenditures on these programs are likely to increase as the elderly population grows. On the other hand, expenditures that are focused on younger age groups, such as education and corrections, may fall. Prudent policy making should consider projected demographic changes and their impact on budgetary issues.

“This conference will give participants an opportunity to learn about the types of challenges communities are expected to face because of an aging population,” said Joy Bruck, AARP Montana State President. “As opinion leaders and policymakers prepare for our next legislative session, this is the perfect opportunity to take the ideas presented at this conference and turn them into real solutions for consideration in January of 2013 when the 63rd Montana legislative session convenes.”

About the Burton K. Wheeler Center for Public Policy

The Burton K. Wheeler Center for Public Policy in Bozeman, MT, promotes the discussion, analysis and eventual resolution of critical issues facing Montana and the region. The Center holds two conferences annually, sponsors research and lectures, publishes conference reports and maintains an informational web page for Montanans and others who are seeking solutions to some of today's most pressing issues and problems.

For more information and conference registration, visit Wheeler Center online or www.onemt.org.

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