Slashing student aid, Head Start, just the beginning of U.S. House budget proposal

The U.S. House and Senate have finally passed a short-term continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown. Both of Arkansas’s Senators, Republican John Boozman and Democrat Mark Pryor, voted in favor of the spending bill, as did all four of Arkansas’s Congressmen: Rep. Rick Crawford (R), Rep. Tim Griffin (R), Rep. Steve Womack (R), and Rep. Mike Ross (D).

The bigger concern at this point is the spending bill for the remainder of fiscal year 2011. (The federal government’s financial calendar runs from October 1 to September 30 the next caledar year.)  You may recall that the House passed H.R. 1 on February 19. This bill–also a Continuing Resolution–has been sent to the Senate for their consideration.

From an Advocates point of view, the House bill is a complete non-starter. The cuts they propose in this bill have dramatic effects on Arkansas. We need all of you to reach out to our Senators and ask that they take a more critical view of the budget than their House colleagues. While most Americans are prepared to accept some cuts, the austerity measures proposed by the House of Representatives will dramatically alter the economic recovery in Arkansas.

Under H.R. 1:

  • Arkansas’s Head Start program would immediately be cut by $10 million this year. This is enough funding to serve roughly 1,900 children in our state.
  • $60 million would be cut from the Pell Grant program in Arkansas, affecting all 94,000 higher education students in the state currently using this program.
  • $19 million would immediately be cut from the Community Development Block Grants, directly impacting local governments throughout Arkansas.

These cuts are just the beginning. Arkansas would also suffer cuts to food inspection services, drug safety, and very importantly the Child Care Development Block Grant. The CCDBG fund is critical because the state currently has almost 12,000 children on the waiting list for subsidized child care. A reduction in this fund will add children to the waiting list, which means more parents will be forced to leave the work force in order to care for their children.