With all the hype surrounding inevitable federal budget cuts and their potential impact on Community Action, we thought now would be a good time to give everyone a brief update on the ongoing budget negotiations and what they mean for us.
The current continuing resolution that has kept the government running at 2010 budget levels was set to expire on Friday, March 4, 2011. This means that Congress and the President had to come up with a new budget agreement for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year or face government shut down effective at midnight on March 5. Only the House acted, proposing unprecedented cuts that would have radically altered the role of the federal government in the lives and communities of most Americans. Community Action funding would have ended on March 5.
The good news is that the President signed a bill on March 2 and, for now, the government will not be shutting down. The not so good news is that their quick fix solution is temporary and will only keep the government operating for two more weeks while the House and Senate continue to work on a budget solution for the remainder of the fiscal year. Additional bad news is that the two week solution includes $4 billion in cuts, which is simply a prorated chunk of the House’s larger proposal to immediately cut $61 billion from this fiscal year.
Most of these $4 billion in cuts come from earmarks. For now, Community Action’s core funding has not been touched. There will be another round of cuts in two weeks, whether a permanent budget is agreed upon or, more likely, another temporary funding measure is implemented. Even if we somehow come out of the 2011 budget debates relatively unscathed, keep in mind that the President proposed cutting 50% of our Community Services Block Grant (CSBG), our core funding source, and initiating a competitive grant procedure for fiscal year 2012. We are in for a long and brutal fight.
Because the government has given itself an extra two weeks to come up with a solution, they have also given us an extra two weeks to mobilize our supporters to fight cuts to CSBG. In order for our advocacy campaign to have a chance of effectively changing our elected officials’ minds, we must launch a large-scale collaborative effort.
We need EVERYBODY to step up, speak out and encourage everyone you know to do the same.
We’ve made this campaign as easy as possible. Call your representatives. Write to your Representatives and Senators. Even write to the President himself. Pass the facts along to your personal networks. Most importantly, keep up to date with what is going on in the budget negotiations. These decisions will affect each and every one of us, the people that we serve and the Lehigh Valley at large.
You can do all of this quickly and easily by following the step-by-step instructions on our Advocacy page, joining our e-mail mailing list, subscribing to this blog, and following updates on our Facebook page and Twitter feed. We are keeping a close eye on the situation but, like anything else, we can only implement positive change if we are all in this together.