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2C: the FCNL Staff Blog

The World We Seek

By Diane Randall on 11/01/2011 @ 04:30 PM

Tags: Budget, Domestic, Diane

Public schools reduce to four days a week in Minnesota.

A 20% increase in families turning to emergency homeless shelters as they lose their housing.

These news briefs caught my attention this past week. Local school districts, cities and towns, counties and states are making cuts to programs that are painful to the 99%. And they are painful in ways that are immediate--like families becoming homeless or people losing jobs because of cutbacks. But the cuts will also have long term consequences--children learn less when they go to school fewer days and families that lose a parent's income or a home become more fragile.

Governors and state legislatures, mayors and city councils, for the most part, must balance their budgets. When federal support for programs diminish at the same time that local governments have less revenue, government services that are used by middle and low income people are diminished.

Here at FCNL, we've been asking our network to communicate with members of Congress as they deliberate this fall about reducing the federal deficit. Quite simply, our members of Congress are making moral choices, and we are asking them to choose in human security, not weapons security. We are asking that they protect cuts to those services that benefit the most vulnerable in our society, and that they cut government that has been disproportionately funded over the past decade through the Pentagon.

Part of our vision at FCNL makes the case for children and those who are vulnerable in our society: "We seek a community where every person's potential may be fulfilled." If people are hungry, if adults can't find work, if children can't attend school, if local government doesn't have revenue, how can we create communities where every person's potential may be fulfilled?

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that closely tracks fiscal policies at the state level: "The cumulative effect of four consecutive years of lagging revenues has led to budget-cutting of historic proportions. An analysis of newly enacted state budgets shows that budget cuts will hit education, health care, and other state-funded services harder in the 2012 fiscal year – which started July 1, 2011 – than in any year since the recession began."

Will our members of Congress recognize that their constituents are longing for a communities where government truly serves people and not the bloated defense budget and military contractors? The supercommittee that must issue its recommendations in 3 weeks and the entire Congress has the opportunity to both prevent devastating cuts to human services, and, importantly, to make significant cuts to the military budget that will demand a re-evaluation of our military missions and contracts.

We've been promoting cuts of $1 trillion to the Pentagon budget over 10 years based on Debt, Deficits & Defense report that came out last year. This common sense approach that includes reductions in the nuclear arsenal and conventional forces, reductions in procurement and research and development bases, and modest restructuring of military benefits is a framework. The fact that Congress is debating and seriously considering cuts to defense expenditures is cause for hope.

No one wants to see families homeless or educational opportunity limited. These services which are provided by local government can be bolstered by federal revenue that comes to states and local communities; our Congress will make choices about our priorities. Will they act to help create communities where every person's potential may be fulfilled?

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