February 19, 2011; Source: KVAL News | Nonprofits in Oregon are speaking out not just about state budget shortfalls, but also about the impact of budget cuts brought to us by Congressional axe-wielders in Washington. The other night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a spending bill for Fiscal Year 2011 – yes, the fiscal year that's already underway – cutting $61 billion from the budget including money for schools, nutrition programs, affordable housing, and environmental protection.
The Senate may lessen some of the cut, and President Obama has said he would veto the legislation if it reached his desk in the form passed by the House. But nonprofits are feeling the brunt not just of the recession, not just of continuing and increasing service demands, and not just from impending Congressional slicing and dicing – but also of the end to stimulus money.
According to Terry McDonald of Lake County, Oregon's St. Vincent de Paul Society, "For the first two years of the recession there was actually more public funds in some very bizarre places. We had the stimulus money but we've seen a lot more of that state money dry up and a lot of the federal money dry up in the last year. Really the trap door has just been sprung."
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The Nonprofit Association of Oregon is holding a series of town halls for nonprofits to address their common needs as they plummet through the trap door of disappearing stimulus funds. It might be good for them to remind Oregon's Congressional delegation that for the people they serve, the recession is still raging.
The success of the stimulus, so to speak, may not have been massive job creation, but vital safety net services that prevented millions of people from falling into (or deeper into) poverty. For those people, despite big paychecks for bankers and Wall Street investors watching the Dow climb over 12,000, the recession is nowhere near over. The nonprofits that serve those people need government support for social safety net programs to continue and even increase.—Rick Cohen