It appears we stand at a crossroads moment of decision. Will we appropriate the resources necessary to promote opportunity, education, progress and fairness? Or, will we slash, cut and destroy program after program that moves us forward as a nation and a society?
Budgets reflect choices.
Budgets affect people .
Budgets spotlight what we value.
Budget discussions now underway in Washington and in Austin will have clear outcomes in the inner city communities/neighborhoods of Dallas, Texas. The decisions made over the next year will set the course for entire segments of our population in this city. For this reason, I'm compelled to talk about the current budget battle.
Congressman Raul Ryan (R-WI) put forward a budget that, if adopted, will wipe out much needed resources for Texas and for Dallas. In fact, the Ryan budget proposes cuts to the federal budget three times larger than the automatic cuts already set for January 2013!
Our poorest neighbors will suffer most. Our children will suffer. In fact, we will all be affected in a negative way.
Here's what the Austin-based Center for Public Policy Priorities said about the Ryan plan:
Reducing Federal Deficits Without a Significant Revenue Increase Would Cost Texas Billions
If significant new revenue isn’t included, efforts to reduce federal deficits would almost certainly damage Texas’ economic recovery and future economic growth by drastically cutting federal investments in schools, roads and bridges, safe communities, and disaster relief.
The House-passed budget from Congressman Paul Ryan is an example of the kind of approach Congress would take if it rejects deficit reduction that includes revenues. Under Ryan’s plan, Texas would lose an estimated 22 percent or $2 billion in federal funding for education, clean water, law enforcement, and other state and local services in 2014 alone.
According to a report released yesterday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a non-partisan policy research organization based in Washington, D.C., Ryan’s plan also would shift other very large costs to states by reducing sharply federal funding for Medicaid (in addition to repealing the health reform law), and likely by cutting deeply funding for highway construction and other transportation projects.
Deficit-reduction shouldn’t come at the expense of Texas’ economic future. If Congress doesn’t take a balanced approach that includes revenues as well as spending cuts it will damage our ability to educate our children, build roads and bridges, and have clean water and safe communities – all key elements of a strong future economy.
Federal funding for states, counties, and cities very likely would be decimated by an unbalanced approach to deficit reduction in the next decade. That’s because there’s broad bipartisan agreement that significant deficit reduction is needed, but federal policy makers also agree in broad terms that deficit-reduction savings from other major parts of the budget – defense, Medicare and Social Security – should be limited during that period. Federal funding for states and local areas would thus be one of the few remaining sources of large potential savings.
These cuts likely would bring federal aid to state and local governments to historic lows. By 2021, under the Ryan budget, federal grant programs for states, counties, and cities likely would be less than half the average of the last 35 years.
These cuts would add to deep cuts Congress already made to state and local aid last year and deep cuts that Texas made in 2011 to education and other state services vital to economic growth. The $5.3 billion cut in state aid for pre-K-12 public schools has already reduced local school district staffing by more than 25,000 jobs, with more cuts expected for the 2012-13 school year. State budget cuts to Medicaid provider rates have endangered health access for low-income Texans, with only 31 percent of Texas physicians now willing to accept all new Medicaid patients, down from 67 percent in 2000.
Budgets affect people.
Severe budget cuts affect the poorest, weakest, most vulnerable people most severely.
Take the time to read the full report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities here.
Our challenge today is not only economic, it's moral and extremely human as well.