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Update on Funding for the Rest of FY 2011

House and Senate members voted April 14 on the “Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011” (H.R.1473), which is the result of negotiations throughout the seven Continuing Resolutions that have kept the government operating since October 1, 2010.       

Funding totals at $1.049 trillion, about $40 billion less than in 2010. $12 billion had been reduced through previous continuing resolutions, and new cuts equal about $28 billion. Overall, this is about a one percent decrease in spending for FY 2011. However, most of the cuts come from discretionary spending programs such as education, food, housing, etc. H.R 1473 includes deep cuts to HUD, job training programs, along with significant cuts in funding  for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The defense budget received a one percent increase to $513 billion – which does not include the $158 billion for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

How could it have been worse? H.R. 1, passed by the House in February, called for cuts of $61 billion in the same areas. The behind-the-scenes work of the administration and members of the Senate leadership preserved some programs which would have been eliminated and limited the degree of cuts to other programs, many of which NETWORK strongly supports. These include:

  • Head Start will face cuts, but not to the H.R. 1 level which would have prevented 218,000 children from benefiting from the program. The H.R.1 level would have laid off 55,000 teachers and related staff.  This compromise maintains the current numbers of children and jobs.
  • Proposed cuts to Title 1 education would have cost approximately 10,000 jobs and one million students would have lost educational services which allow them to benefit from school. Instead, the compromise maintains the 2010 funding.
  • Older members of our communities will continue to benefit from Commodity Supplemental Food Program – which had been zeroed out in H.R.1.  The previous funding is maintained in the compromise.
  • The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants & Children (WIC) is cut by $752 million to $6.5 billion for 2011 – just as food prices are escalating. H.R.1 would have cut more deeply, and WIC would not have been able to meet needs of those who are eligible.
  • Pell grants assist about nine million low- and middle-income students attend college, improving their knowledge and skills so they are better able to improve our nation in their future work.  H.R.1 would have cut the maximum award (for the neediest students) from $4,860 to $4,015.  The difference of $845 would have kept thousands of students from being able to afford to continue their studies. The compromise keeps the award level at $4,860.
  • AmeriCorps provides employment in jobs from which society benefits, when almost one-in-ten persons is unemployed – and youth have a tremendously difficult time finding work. This would have been eliminated by H.R.1. Instead, AmeriCorps funding is cut by $23 million below 2010 levels.
  • Thousands of children wander into ingestion of dangerous substances each year. H.R.1 would have eliminated almost all Poison Control Centers. But this week’s compromise saves most of these life-saving centers.
  • H.R.1 would have eliminated all funding for Job Training programs, including state grants for Adults, Youth and Dislocated Workers; when large categories of jobs have been eliminated or sent overseas to benefit from unjustly low wages and U.S. workers need training and retraining. The comprimise provides $2.8 billion for job training, $182 million below the 2010 level.
  • Job Corps funding would have been cut by 40%, in a time of high unemployment.  Instead, the FY 2010 funding level is maintained in the compromise.

This outlines just a few of the critical program areas saved by the administration and legislators to soften the blows laid out in H.R.1. This is a time of extremely high unemployment. The nation is not going to be able to recover economically with millions of people drawing on resources rather than contributing revenue at both state and federal levels. Yet, H.R. 1 was estimated to cut a minimum of 700,000 jobs. Many of these have been saved through the compromise on which the House and Senate will vote this week.

This compromise is not perfect by any means, and NETWORK does not approve of H.R. 1473; however it could have been much worse.