Join the Fight to Save Service in 2012
Posted by Jerry Duchene Saavedra on April 20, 2011
Over the last three months, the service community rallied together to save FY11 funding for critical national service programs under the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), including AmeriCorps and Senior Corps. It is clear that thanks to all the hard work of service supporters across the country, from visiting your members of Congress at their District offices to calling your Senators, the CNCS was able to avoid complete elimination as HR1 sought to do and secured 94% of its FY10 budget for FY11.
That being said, it is also very clear that the cuts that were made, especially the elimination of funding for Learn and Serve America, is a tough setback for the service movement. They will negatively impact our local service organizations like Habitat for Humanity and the Red Cross and more importantly the people and communities they serve. With the budget battle of 2011 now behind us, it is imperative that we come together once again to fight for service funding in 2012.
The 2012 budget battle has already begun and supporters of service have two clear proposals in front of us.
- President Obama’s 2012 Budget Request – On February 14th, 2011 President Obama sent his 2012 budget request to Congress. For the CNCS, President Obama has requested $1.3 billion which would support the growth in AmeriCorps to 90,000 members, foster the replication of innovative and proven programs through the Social Innovation Fund, and create a demonstration project with Senior Corps that will support and test promising approaches to engaging retiring Americans in service.
- Rep. Paul Ryan’s 2012 Budget Proposal – On April 15th, 2011, the US House of Representatives passed Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) 2012 budget proposal, “The Path to Prosperity”, that once again completely eliminates funding for the CNCS and all of its programs including AmeriCorps and Senior Corps.
We can take away two things from our experience in 2011.
- Neither of the plans above will end up becoming the budget for 2012. The White House and Congress will have to come together to negotiate and reach a deal or face another government shutdown.
- It will be critical in the months ahead that members of Congress hear directly from their constituents about the local impact and value of service in their communities. In addition, there must be a critical mass of their constituents calling on them to support funding for national service programs in the FY12 budget. The level of funding the CNCS will receive in 2012 will depend on how well these two things are done.
Succeeding in this tough climate will require swift and continuous action from every supporter of service. This is why less than 24 hours after the House passed Rep. Ryan’s budget proposal that eliminates funding for the CNCS, we have started a petition on Change.org calling on all members of Congress to fully fund national service in 2012. In less than a week more than 7,500 people have added their voice and the number is growing every day. We need you to add your voice by signing the petition and help us send a clear message to Congress that national service is an investment in the future of our country and needs to be funded in 2012.
This is just the first step. We will of course follow up with you as the campaign develops and although the budget battle for 2012 looks to be even tougher, I am confident that together we will once again save service in America.