Proposed budget cuts threaten economic security of families and elders


Birmingham, Alabama — As Congress works to meet the April 8 deadline for a final budget deal for the fiscal year 2011, the Community Action Association of Alabama will join direct service providers and advocates from around the country in Washington, DC to warn Congress about the impact of cuts that threaten economic security for families and elders. The groups will meet with the Alabama Congressional delegation and other Members of Congress as part of a three-day organizing meeting hosted by Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW)- a national organization that works to achieve economic independence for families.
“The House budget will hurt job growth and weaken the already tenuous ability of millions of Alabama families and seniors to make ends meet,” said Ron Gilbert, Executive Director of the Association. “Cutting off the very programs that are helping families and seniors stay afloat is a short-sighted move that will stall our economic recovery.
Cynthia Burton, head of Community Service Programs of West Alabama, said that the proposed budget cuts would be “devastating” to low-income people in the Black Belt area, including Greene County.
“I don’t understand why the Congress is even considering this,” said Burton, “If we cut out every single domestic program, that would only be about 10% of the entire budget. How will that help to solve a multi-trillion dollar deficit?”
Community Service provides a number of services to low income and elderly citizens, all of which would be impacted by the proposed budget cuts.
“The cuts would certainly impact our ability to help low income families with energy assistance (LIHEAP),” she said.
“It would hurt the mobile food voucher program. We had anticipated beginning a system where the vouchers could be used at local farmers’ markets. That is now on hold.
“All the programs that we offer will be cut in proportion to the budget cuts.
“In Head Start programs, we would probably have to cut back on staffing, drastically cut some programs such as field trips and the cuts could also affect us bring in professionals to assist with special needs kids.
“In other words,” said Burton, “it would hurt almost the entire area.”
During the meeting, groups will also discuss a new report and measure for family economic security. The national Basic Economic Security Tables (BEST), to be released during the meeting, calculates the monthly income necessary for families to cover their basic expenses, including child care, housing, health care, and transportation, and prepare for the future, including saving for emergencies, home ownership, education and retirement. The report will provide new details on the role public programs for housing, child care and health care play in helping families make ends meet.
Alabama will be among the first states for which Basic Economic Security Tables will be developed. Alabama’s BEST is scheduled for release in May at the Advancing Economic Stability Conference (http://www.advancingalabamaconference.org).
Leading economists are projecting a loss of 700,000 jobs nationwide if the most recent House spending bill for fiscal year 2011 (HR1) is enacted. The bill includes $61 billion in cuts, including billions of dollars in cuts to job training, education, elder assistance programs, such as:
*$3.8 billion in cuts to Workforce Investment Act training programs, which have served 8 million people and place more than half of them in jobs in the past year;
*Cuts to Head Start, special education (IDEA) and schools in low-income communities, which derail education programs and eliminate an estimated 72,000 jobs;
*44 percent cut to the Community Services Block Grant program, which provides nutrition, employment, health and other necessary services to over 20 million low-income people, including five million children, 2.3 million seniors and 1.7 million people with disabilities through 1,065 community action agencies nationwide;
*Cuts to Low-Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which millions of families depend on to stay warm in winter;
*A 67% cut to the Section 202 senior housing program, which already has a two-year waiting list for seniors in need of affordable housing.
“Job training programs are helping get millions of Americans back to work, and housing, heating and food assistance programs are helping support the millions more who have not been able to find a new jobs,” said Gilbert. “We need Congress to focus on a budget solution that helps grow, not undercut the middle class.”

The Community Action Association of Alabama is a strong, united network of effective community action agencies, guided by excellence and integrity in the promotion of social and economic justice in the State of Alabama. For more information go to http://www.caaalabama.org.

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