by Lisa Duelfer
This article was a preview of more recent articles and of course, the actual budget itself, but it was the first notification I had of my advocacy program, the Corporation for National and Community Service, was being cut. There are many programs being cut, or their funding being reduced, and I invite everyone to discuss all of them, however I will be focusing on CNCS.
To better frame this, earlier that week, we had submitted our proposals for what we were going to push for, and I had written a modest commentary on better benefits for a term of community service (currently corps members are issued about $160 every two weeks as a living stipend) a more enticing scholarship program (currently just above $5,000) and better recognition (currently most employers do not know about the program, and graduates are not granted additional status to apply for federal jobs). Then on Saturday I see this article and all of the sudden I am going from “let’s improve this awesome program” to “hey! Leave my Americorps alone!”
CNCS, as I will go into during my presentation, is a bipartisan program that has been expanded by every previous president since it was proposed by G.H.W. Bush and passed by Clinton. It has also been on the chopping block numerous times, again due to its lack of prestige. Previous champions of the program include southern gulf representatives and senators who saw the benefits of the program first hand, helping rebuild after Katrina. Likewise we would look to the northeast now, beseeching those whose constituents were benefited by the service of Americorps members after Sandy.
There are over 1,000,000 Americorps alums that are rallying to alert their law makers of the relevance of National Service. There are many other programs whose budget is being reduced or cut that have other champions – Earth Day there will be a “march for science,” pushing back on the EPA and National Parks issues. Recently videos of Elmo being fired and Fred Rogers saving PBS from Reagan cuts have been circulating around Facebook. How is the state budget fighting back? Who is standing up for HUD?
When reaching out to a representative about the upcoming budget, is it better to stay on a single issue like a personal special interest group, or should you make multiple please for all of your issues? What are you opinions of the current proposals for the “hard power” budget that is proposed?