Speaking Out! Obama’s budget and kids
President Obama releases new federal spending blueprint
Last week President Obama outlined his proposed budget for federal spending in fiscal year 2013. The role of government has been hugely controversial as the election season gears up, and child advocates have had to defend cherished aid for needy families. But the budget from the Obama administration largely protects child services, and even offers some exciting new investments.
“President Obama today outlined a federal budget that would bolster programs to protect and nurture needy children, particularly in health and education,” said Voices President and CEO Bill Bentley in our release. “While this is not the budget child advocates would have drafted, we applaud Obama for the emphasis he has placed on investments in the next generation.”
Voices was pleased to see new support for America’s schools. Notably, the Obama administration proposes $30 billion to modernize at least 35,000 schools and another $30 billion to help states and localities retain and hire teachers and first responders. This plan was the subject of a Voices infographic last fall, when the president first proposed the aid as part of the American Jobs Act.
But like the American Jobs Act, the president’s budget will likely get no traction on Capitol Hill. That would be a shame, considering that it also calls for full funding for Pell Grants, a program that helps realize the college dreams of millions of needy youth, and additional funding of $850 million for the Race to the Top initiative, a competitive grant program encouraging state education reform. Voices also applauded proposed increases of $85 million for Head Start and $825 million for the Child Care and Development Block Grant.
Experts from Voices member organizations will teleconference on the budget to discuss all the implications for children. Look for a full Voices policy analysis of the president’s budget this week. We’ll be looking for your questions and comments!
Deal reached on payroll tax cut extension
Last week we warned of the bad ideas that threatened to derail the extension of the payroll tax cut and long-term unemployment benefits. We’re pleased to report that a deal is in the works that continues these popular programs without taking away benefits from needy Americans.
Voices attended a White House briefing last week in which President Obama personally campaigned for the payroll tax extension. Obama officials highlighted the stories of several Americans who benefited from the tax cut and argued that it bolstered the paychecks of working Americans at a critical time in the economic recovery—about $40 per paycheck for a family making $50,000, according to administration statistics. An increased reimbursement rate for Medicare – the “doc fix” – is also reportedly part of the deal.
Child nutrition programs even when school’s out for the summer
School meals provide vital nutrition to children from low-income families, ensuring that everyone in class arrives ready to learn. But what about when school’s out for the summer?
Since 1968 the federal government has provided cities with support for summer feeding programs in the form of the Summer Food Service Program. But as our friends at the National League of Cities points out, the program is “woefully underutilized.” While almost 21 million children receive meals while school’s in session, fewer than one in seven of them get the same kind of help during the summer. But together with Voices ally the Food Research and Action Center, the National League of Cities is working to make sure local governments take advantage of the program, and that parents are aware this aid exists.
Voices is proud to partner with the National League of Cities and with long-time ally the Food Research and Action Center on raising awareness and utilization of Summer Food Service Program. Click to read a blog post from the National League of Cities on this important program.