Pleading with Congress to Stop the Budget Cuts

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March 1, 2011; Source: Times-News | Twin Falls, Idaho is a different world than inside the Capitol Beltway, but Ken Robinette, executive director of the South Central Community Action Partnership, is going to visit Washington to meet with the Idaho Congressional delegation for a discussion of the impact of President Obama's proposed FY2011 budget cuts – particularly the 40 percent reduction in the Community Services Block Grant program. The program was just short of one-tenth of the organization's budget last year.

Essentially, SCCAP is in danger of losing at least half of its CSBG monies at a time when over the past two years, the number of applicants for SCCAP assistance has increased by one-fourth. If it were only 9 or 10 percent of the organization's budget, some people might think that SCCAP ought to find resources from other sources to scrape by, perhaps until the nation's budget picture improved and legislators restored or increased the Block Grants. But that’s an unlikely scenario. There are few, if any, other sources of money to replace CSBG and we could only hope that Congress would put more money into CSBG when the economy improves.

And the SCCAP problem isn't just CSBG. The proposed budget whacks other important resources for the poor, such as weatherization and heating assistance. What’s more, losing CSBG might "create a ripple effect that hurts SCCAP's chances for other grants," according to Robinette. And because of the stimulus funding cliff, the increased resources SCCAP got from the stimulus, allowing it to expand services and hire new staff to respond to the needs of a lousy economy, are now going to contract – but the needs of poor people haven't. Some of the rural areas in SCCAP's region might find a local outreach office closed, forcing poor people to make longer commutes to the SCCAP central office in Twin Falls.

Will SCCAP have any luck with the delegation? The SCCAP director plans to stop in on the state's two senators – Republicans Mike Simpson and Mike Crapo – and Congressman Jim Risch, another Republican. As NPQ readers know, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives has called for major cuts in federal domestic discretionary programs, much larger cuts than President Obama's. But a Risch spokesperson said, "We're broke, basically, the United States is broke. Is the Community Service Block grant being cut or not, that's up in the air. There's a lot of fluidity right now, a lot of unknowns." One of the unknowns clearly is how honest the budget-cutters are going to be when pressed by the nonprofits suffering the consequences of proposed federal budget rescissions and terminations. Because we all know the likely outcome here.—Rick Cohen

  • David Cearley

    Thevbudget cutters arectrying to cut 2% of this year’s deficit spending, while thevtotal government borrowing fir the year is more than a trillion dollars. Yes, there are worthy programs being cut, but borrowing from the next generation to pay for today’s services means future taxpayers will be stuck paying our bills and have less $$ available for services instead ood debt payments. Does your non-profit follow a budget model guaranteed to lead to insolvency, or do you try to make sure you can still serve clients next year?