Langevin Highlights Sequestration’s Impact on RI

In events this week with Rhode Island organizations that serve some of our most disadvantaged communities, Congressman Jim Langevin is stressing the importance of replacing the potentially severe cutbacks these initiatives face if the across-the-board federal spending reductions known as sequestration remain in effect.

At an early education facility and a center that assists the developmentally disabled, Langevin emphasized the alternative to sequestration that he has advocated: a budget that includes targeted and thoughtful cuts in areas like agriculture subsidies for big farms combined with revenue increases from closing unnecessary tax loopholes and requiring a minimum effective tax rate for the wealthiest few. This approach would bring down the country’s debt, while maintaining support for programs that yield a return on our investment.

“When you see firsthand the value of these programs to our most vulnerable residents, it puts a human face on the damage that will result from sequestration’s arbitrary and reckless cuts,” said Langevin. “I will continue to urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to realize that fixing our budget isn’t just about numbers. The decisions we make about our priorities directly affect people. I cannot believe anyone would say that the subsidies we give to big oil companies or tax breaks for corporations sending jobs overseas are more important than giving someone with a disability a job opportunity or ensuring a child from a low-income family gets a quality education.”

Today, Langevin visited Children’s Friend’s Head Start program in Providence, where he toured classrooms of preschool children from low-income families. He then met with staff, including President and CEO David Caprio, and parents about their concerns that services will decrease. Rhode Island is projected to lose up to $1.8 million in Head Start funding under sequestration, resulting in up to 65 jobs lost and 312 fewer children served. The National Institute for Early Education Research estimates the average benefits from a universally accessible program at ages 3 and 4 to be at least $25,000 per child, substantially more than the costs, estimated at $8,703 annually and $17,406 for two years.

On Monday, Langevin toured the Day Services facility of the Trudeau Memorial Center, an organization in Warwick that supports people with disabilities and increases their independence, including by providing work opportunities. CEO Donald Armstrong, as well as other staff, detailed the consequences of sequestration, saying it would risk education, housing, nutrition and employment services for the groups they serve, including disabled veterans.

Langevin plans to continue highlighting the effects of sequestration later this week with a discussion on affordable housing. Open Society Foundations has estimated that the cut to the Housing Choice Voucher program alone could cause more than 100,000 low-income families to lose rental assistance over the next 12 months.

In total, sequestration would cut $85 billion in 2013. Seven percent of all of Rhode Island’s revenue comes from grants subject to sequestration. In addition, the impact on the state this year could ultimately include:

  • A loss of approximately $2.4 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 30 teacher and aide jobs at risk and resulting in about 3,000 fewer students being served;
  • A cut of about $126,000 in funding for job search assistance, referral, and placement, meaning around 4,550 fewer people would get the help and skills they need to find employment;
  • A limit on access to breast and cervical cancer screening, with a cut of up to $120,000 affecting about 500 women; and
  • A decrease of about $188,000 in nutrition assistance for seniors.