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Update on Federal Budget Deliberations and Proposed Cuts to Safety Net!

There are TWO fiscal year budgets in the news this week:

The President's Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) 2012 Budget: President Obama released his budget proposal FFY2012 on Monday, February 14th. This budget proposal would fund the federal fiscal year that starts October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2012. As many of you have read in recent press, the President has proposed a number of disturbing and harmful cuts to critical programs that serve low income constituencies including cuts to fuel assistance, housing, community action programs (funded by CDBG fund) and more. For purposes of the Food SNAP Coalition, it is worth noting that the President’s budget does not propose reductions in the food stamp/SNAP program, WIC and child nutrition programs. However, Coalition members are deeply concerned about other proposals in the President's budget that would do real harm (some of which will be discussed at the upcoming March 1st Coalition meeting).

The Food Research Action Center (FRAC) www.frac.org has a good analysis of the President’s anti-hunger provisions. 

House Budget for Remainder of Current Fiscal Year (FFY2011): (The following text is from a recent FRAC e-mail alert.) This week the House of Representatives is moving forward to pass a budget for the federal government for the seven months remaining in FY2011 (through September 30, 2011). House Republican leaders currently propose to cut spending by more than $65 billion for that time period. The current Continuing Resolution expires on March 4th, but it is not expected that the House, Senate, and the President can finish for FY2011 by then. Negotiations are under way to provide a short-term measure to continue uninterrupted government spending until a final proposal can be hashed out. Advocates have opportunities in the coming weeks to weigh in and support anti-hunger and human needs programs.

The Continuing Resolution process essentially concerns only discretionary spending programs, not entitlement and mandatory programs. Since most of the large nutrition programs (SNAP, school lunch and breakfast, child care food, after-school and summer food) are entitlements – the exception is WIC – they are not targeted in the Republican proposal.

The proposed House Continuing Resolution for FY2011, as released by House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rodgers (R-Ky.), makes the following cuts to nutrition programs (comparisons are to levels that the existing FY2011 Continuing Resolution, which expires on March 4th, planned to maintain):

Funds WIC at $6.504 billion, a cut of $747.2 million. While the $6.504 billion funding level is likely to be adequate, it leaves very little room over the next seven months for possible bigger than expected increases in food prices or demand for services. In addition, this funding level precludes the enhancement of the fruit and vegetables benefits for children.

Funds the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP) at $151.4 million, a cut of $20 million from the FY2011 funding level of $171.4 million. As the reduction will need to be absorbed in a seven-month period, CSFP caseloads will need to be reduced significantly (amount of reductions not known at this point) and the six newly approved states (Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island) will not be able to commence CSFP operations.

Maintains TEFAP Administration (distribution/storage) funding at $49.5 million.

Zeros out the Congressional Hunger Center ($3 million cut).

Zeros out Hunger Free Communities grants ($5 million cut).

Zeros out TEFAP infrastructure grants ($6 million cut).

Zeros out community gardens ($1 million cut).

Funds Nutrition Programs Administration at $144.8 million ($3 million cut).

Reduced funding for the FEMA Emergency Food and Shelter Program by 50 percent ($100 million cut).

Some of the most damaging cuts for low-income people in the Republican proposal come outside the nutrition programs. Among the cuts in the House Republican FY2011 blueprint are:


$1 billion from Head Start (15 percent cut).
Reduced funding for the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) by $405 million.
Reduced funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) contingency fund by 66 percent ($390 million cut).
FRAC, MLRI and a host of organizations are deeply concerned about the cuts proposed for FFY 2011 as well as the FFY2012 budget, and will be working with our national partners to prevent cuts to low-income assistance programs – especially as tens of millions of Americans continue to struggle with food insecurity, hunger, unemployment, and wages and hours of work that are inadequate to support families. For the most up to date information on the federal cuts and action steps, we urge you to consider joining with the Coalition for Human Needs and their “SAVE” campaign – “Strengthening America’s Values and Economy (SAVE) for All. SAVE is a coalition of national, state and local advocacy groups, service providers, faith-based organizations, policy experts, labor and civil rights groups working to protect important services from harmful federal budget cuts and to save the federal capacity to spur economic recovery and progress for the benefit of all. Here’s the link to the Coalition, and SAVE campaign: http://www.chn.org/issues/save-for-all/

For additional important information on the House proposed budget cuts and impact on low income households, see Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis of proposed House budget cuts: http://www.cbpp.org/

This and other issues will be discussed at the NEXT Food SNAP Coalition Meeting: Tuesday, March 1st from 10 - 12, ABCD Conference Room, 138 Tremont Street, Boston. (The March 1st meeting is really the end of February meeting, but postponed a week due to President's Day and school vacation)