We write regarding a grave threat to jobs, homes and the well-being of our youth and seniors, a threat that will impact this year’s funding for federal programs. In the next few days, the House of Representatives is likely to vote on HR 1, a bill that the chair of the Appropriations Committee boasts brings about “the largest reduction in non-security [i.e., non-military] discretionary spending in the history of the nation.”
The proposed cuts to social services and programs announced last Friday are massive, widespread, and reckless. Over 70 programs will be eliminated in just the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services.
At a time of widespread unemployment and economic restructuring, over a billion dollars in job training programs are targeted to be closed. Critical affordable housing programs will be zero funded and health clinics closed.
Most of these cuts have received no coverage in the media. Last week attention was on cuts to Big Bird (Public Broadcasting), Amtrak and high speed rail. This week the news focused on President Obama’s proposals for Fiscal Year 2012. But before we get to FY2012, we need a budget for FY2011. Federal programs are presently operating with temporary funding, known as a Continuing Resolution, that expires on March 4.
The proposal is too lengthy to fully discuss here, but here are some examples:
• Community Development Block Grants (CDBG): Cut by $2.9 B or 66 percent from FY2010 levels. This program is HUD’s largest single grant program for community development and services.
• Community Health Centers: Funding for hundreds of primary care facilities cut by $1billion or 45 percent of FY2010 levels. House leadership note that that these facilities are essential to implementing health care reform, reforms the present leadership seek to block.
• Corporation for National and Community Service (including AmeriCorps and SeniorCorps): Barely survives with a 90 percent cut from FY 2010 levels.
• Head Start: The nation’s premier pre-school program cut by 15 percent from FY2010 levels and, as with a number of other programs, cuts off needed expansion that was originally proposed in this year’s budget.
• HUD housing counseling: Frontline counseling for families facing foreclosures and evictions eliminated.
• Native Hawaiian student education and Native Hawaiian housing block grants: both eliminated
• Youthbuild: Eliminated. One of many job readiness and training programs cut or terminated.
• Community Development Financial Institutions Fund: cut by 80 percent.
• HOPE VI: Zero funded. While imperfect, HOPE VI is the primary program to re-build aging public housing. As with a few other programs, the bill would also take back most HOPE VI funding allocated for last year and reduce the funding for repairs to existing units.
• Senior Community Service Employment Program: Will face a 90 percent cut from Fiscal Year 2010 levels. This is the only federal program that focuses on connecting low-income older Americans to viable employment opportunities.
• Social Security Administration: A $1.7 billion cut (8.5 percent) will result in longer delays in benefits for retirees, injured workers and their dependents, and survivors of deceased workers.
For the full list released Friday see: http://republicans.appropriations.house.gov/_files/ProgramCutsFY2011ContinuingResolution.pdf.
For some of these programs, the immediate impact of cuts would be doubled because the reductions would be applied only in the last half of the fiscal year.
What comes next? Additional cuts may be added as amendments before the vote in the House. Then a budget must also be approved by the Senate. Finally, the differences between the two versions must be reconciled, a temporary budget extended, or programs will run out of funding by March 4.
As the pressure to reach a ‘compromise’ grows, it is critical that all communities raise their voices to defend essential services and programs. National CAPACD and other organizations are discussing how we can best support that effort. We will need your participation and feedback in those discussions.
Look out for some follow up alerts in the coming days. And let us know about programs that you feel are most critical for our communities and your programs. Write us at: [email protected].
The present budget battles will not only have immediate impact, they threaten our future. Cuts in funding for FY2011 will set a new lower baseline for FY2012. Shuttered Head Start sites, deteriorated housing units, and health clinics may never be restored. Even more serious will be the loss of human potential for those who do not receive job training, pre-school education, or health care. Please join us now in the effort to stop the destruction of our social safety net.