I’ve been trying to get my mind around what the spending cuts passed by the U.S. House of Representatives would mean for the District of Columbia.
Still working on it. There are, after all, a great many cuts and many different formulas for distributing such funds as remain.
Fortunately, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has come to the rescue with big parts of the answer — a state-by-state breakout of the major cuts in five broad categories.
It’s an heroic effort, but not exhaustive. Missing, for example, are breakouts of the $747.2 million cut to WIC (the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children)* and cuts to several other health-related programs.
One of these would totally wipe out long-standing federal funding for family planning and related preventive health care. Another would cut funding for community health centers by $1 billion — about a third of their total federal funding, says Joan McCarter, Senior Policy Editor at Daily Kos.
The CBPP figures reflect the continuing resolution as it was introduced. The version of House passed included numerous amendments. But so far as I know, only one of them affected the cuts CBPP calculated. I’ll post an update if I learn I’m wrong about this.
So, with caveats, here are some of the top-line figures for programs that are especially important to low-income District residents.
The District would lose a total of $8.6 million in grants for K-12 education programs. (I’m assuming here that the funds the House restored for special education would be offset by the larger funding cut approved for school improvements.)
About 44,000 local college students would see their Pell grants reduced or altogether eliminated. The maximum grant they could receive would be $845 less than it is now. Because all grants are based on the maximum, the cut would affect all recipients.
Vocational and adult education programs would be cut by a total of $190,000.
The job training and related services funded under the Workforce Investment Act would take a much bigger hit than the vocational and adult ed. programs — bigger even than CBPP originally reported.
WIA programs operate on a fiscal year that begins on July 1 — three months before new federal appropriations become effective. So they customarily get advance funding to carry them through. The continuing resolution doesn’t provide any.
So according to CBPP’s recalculation, the District would stand to lose $8.2 million for its WIA Fiscal Year 2011 program year. An estimated 20,900 adults now eligible would lose opportunities for skills assessments, training, job search help and the like, as would about 450 youth.
The District’s capital fund grant for public housing would be cut by $9.2 million. This is the grant that helps cover the costs of upgrading and repairing public housing units.
An additional $900,000 would be lost for affordable housing development and rental assistance funded under the HOME Investment Partnerships program.
The District would also lose $12.4 million of the funds it receives from the Community Development Block Grant. That’s about 63% of what it received in Fiscal Year 2010.
The block grant can be used for a broad range of activities, including affordable housing development, neighborhood revitalization, improvements to public facilities like neighborhood centers and assistance to businesses for economic development activities that will benefit principally low and moderate-income people.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse
Two other block grants provide the District with funding for mental health services and for substance abuse prevention and treatment. Both would be cut, leaving the District with $471,000 less.
And, once again, the District would be banned from using its own funds for needle exchanges to help control the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Funding Exclusively for the District
CBPP understandably doesn’t cover the impending cut to funding the District receives because it’s the nation’s capital — and a unique state-city hybrid created and still controlled by Congress.
Under the continuing resolution, federal payments to the District would reportedly be cut by more than $80 million. Our Metro system would lose an additional $150 million.
“Another serious blow to the District’s precarious financial situation,” says Mayor Vincent Gray. He warns that the cuts “will probably result in the elimination of key services for residents of the District.”
Unquestionably, especially if he’s talking about the total prospective losses.
On the brighter side, the District almost certainly won’t lose all the funds the pending continuing resolution would take away. The Senate won’t pass the bill as written. President Obama has all but said he’d veto it if the Senate did.
However, the House Republican leadership has made clear that it won’t agree to even a short-term bill to avert a government shutdown unless it includes some cuts in current spending levels.
As so often in these cases, low-income people are likely to get thrown under the bus.
* This is the figure in a just-released budget report by the Coalition on Human Needs. CBPP’s overview for the state-by-state tables and my own calculations put the figure at a rounded-down $752 million.
UPDATE 1: After posting this, I found a state-by-state breakout for the cut to community health centers. According to the national association that represents them, the District would lose $865,826, and 3,755 patients would lose access to care.
UPDATE 2: I originally reported that K-12 education would be cut by $5.4 million. This was an error on my part. The correct figure is in the text above.