What is happening with the Federal Budget?


Background

On October 1st of last year, the federal fiscal year 2011 began. The Congress did not pass a budget funding government programs. Instead they passed what is known as a “continuing resolution” that funds programs at essentially the same level they were in 2010. This resolution will expire on March 4th. Congress needs to pass final legislation that will fund the government until September 30th of this year or at some point government could “shutdown.’ The fiscal year for 2012 will begin on October 1st of this year.

What the Congress is Currently Considering

The House of Representatives recently proposed a series of cuts to the budget for this year. Last week we told you about how they proposed $32 billion in cuts – including to the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, community health centers, poison control centers, and other children’s programs. This was not enough for some members of the House, particularly those who associate with the “Tea Party” movement. On Friday night, a day and time known by government officials as the best to release information that they know will get the least amount of media coverage, the Appropriations Committee offered an additional $42 billion in cuts. These include

  • Head Start – $1 billion (15%) cut
  • Community Health Centers – $1 billion cut
  • Community Services Block Grant – $341 million cut
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance contingency fund – $390 million cut
  • Title I (K-12 education for low-income students) – $693.5 million cut
  • IDEA (special education) grants to states – $560 million cut
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, & Children (WIC) – $747 million cut
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers (after school programs) – $100 million cut
  • Maternal and Child Health Block Grant – $50 million cut
  • Child Care Development Block Grant – $39 million cut

Many other children’s programs will be eliminated entirely. Some examples include:

  • Teen Pregnancy Prevention Grants
  • Mentoring Children of Prisoners
  • Even Start
  • Striving Readers
  • High School Graduation Initiative
  • Student Aid – for higher education
  • LEAP program (for low-income college students)

The House could include even more cuts as they debate this resolution.

The economy remains in recession, and an all-time record number of children (14,567,000) currently live in poverty. Cuts like this would mean that 368,000 low income 3-and 4-year olds would lose the education and nutrition program they receive at their Head Start center. The education cuts, along with others being made in states, would leave thousands of teachers out of jobs this year. Many in Washington say these cuts are needed to reduce the deficit. However, these cuts would take only 2% off this year’s projected deficit. So essentially, these cuts harm children and don’t solve America’s fiscal challenges.

If you would like to tell congress how you feel about the 2011 proposed buget Click here to contact your representatives.

Even if the House of Representatives passes all of these cuts to the budget for this year, the Senate has their say as well. Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has slammed these cuts, saying “they would impede the federal government from completing even its most core functions.”  President Obama has threatened to veto these cuts.  This debate will continue throughout the year.

At some point, Congress will begin debating the budget for next year. This week, President Obama released his budget for 2012.  Overall, it contains a small increase to children’s programs. Not all programs receive an increase. The President proposed cuts in juvenile justice, heating assistance for low-income families, and community service programs. He makes up for this somewhat with increases in Head Start, afterschool programs, child nutrition, child health, and education programs.

From an email written by:

Michael Petit
President
Every Child Matters Education Fund

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