New Report Shows Kentucky Children Would Suffer Under House Budget

Tells Congress Best Approach to Reducing the Federal Deficit is to Protect Vulnerable Families, Promote Economic Recovery

Jeffersontown, KY At a time when over 208,000 Kentuckians are out of work, the U.S. House of Representatives’ approach to the federal budget fails the children and families who are struggling most with the recession, according to a new report by the Coalition on Human Needs for the SAVE for All campaign.

The report draws a sharp contrast between the president’s budget for next fiscal year and the House plan for the remainder of this year, although it also notes serious concerns with elements of the president’s budget. It shows how the proposed budget cuts would both harm individuals and damage the country’s fragile economic recovery.

Ultimately, the biggest deficit-reduction measure is an expanding economy, with more people working and paying taxes, according to the report, A Better Budget for All: Saving Our Economy and Helping Those in Need.

Kentucky Youth Advocates (KYA) released the report in Kentucky in partnership with The Coalition on Human Needs to help launch the Strengthening America’s Values and Economy for All Campaign, or SAVE for All. SAVE for All is supported by more than 1,000 organizations across the country, including KYA.

The report reviews the biggest differences in the two approaches to the federal budget, as well as the cuts with the largest effect on families already struggling with poverty. The House plan includes the largest cuts, on an annualized basis, in domestic appropriations funding in history.

Tens of thousands of Kentucky children and families would suffer under the House plan for the rest of fiscal year 2011. “We know that growing up in poverty has long-term influence on opportunities for kids to grow up healthy and prepared for adulthood,” said Terry Brooks, Executive Director of Kentucky Youth Advocates. “For families hit hard by the recession, many federal programs, like Head Start and Pell grants assist low-income children and students with meeting their education needs. Kentucky’s future relies on meeting the needs of these children.”

The report also analyzes current proposals for changing the federal budget process, pointing out that all of them share a common flaw: they reject revenue increases as part of a balanced solution for reducing the federal deficit and debt. The report calls on Congress to look at the entire federal budget — including revenues, tax loopholes, and military spending — not just domestic annual appropriations.

“Cutting only from a portion of domestic spending that constitutes less than a fifth of our total budget simply cannot solve our federal deficit and debt, but it will cause enormous pain and cripple our economic future,” said Deborah Weinstein, executive director of the Coalition on Human Needs, an alliance of national organizations that promotes public policies to address the needs of low-income and other vulnerable populations.

Here are some examples of what the House plan would mean for children, young adults, and their families in Kentucky:

  • Over 2,250 young children would not be able to receive Head Start services and 303 Head Start jobs would be lost
  • More than 15,000 poor children will lose or have reduced extra academic support
  • Over 2,200 children would lose or have reduced after-school programs
  • Over 50,000 patients would lose health care they would have received at Community Health Centers over the next year and 4  health center sites would have to close
  • 137,000 low-income Kentucky college students would lose some or all of their Pell Grants
  • Over 21,000 low income Kentucky college students would lose some or all of their Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants
  • Over 4,000 youth in Kentucky would lose job training and employment services. Job training under the Workforce Investment Act would essentially be shut down until July 2012.

The report recommends that any deficit reduction plan:

  • Make major steps towards deficit reduction gradual and long-term, because the solutions will be much easier and the resulting pain much less severe if the economy is stronger;
  • Not rely primarily on cuts in domestic appropriations, which are not the cause of the ballooning federal deficit;
  • Include equitable revenue increases;
  • Reduce wasteful spending; and
  • Protect low-income people from harm.

“It is clear that now is the time to make the commitment to invest in Kentucky’s children and build a stronger future for the Commonwealth,” said Brooks. “Players at all levels of government have vital roles to prevent draconian cuts affecting those already suffering most. Congress can act by fighting for a balanced approach to budget reform. State policymakers can look toward implementing a budget that strengthens support programs that are proven to work for children and families. All of these actions will ease hardship and strengthen Kentucky’s future.”

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