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Study: MA Women Hit Hardest by Budget Cuts

January 12, 2010

BOSTON - Amid state budget cuts and an economy that has seen better days, the ladder to success has become a steeper climb for low-income women, according to a new study. The Massachusetts Budget & Policy Center report shows cuts to state programs for higher education, adult basic education, and child care assistance are disproportionately affecting women.

Marianna Islam, assistant vice president of United Way of Central Massachusetts, says it is because women and children make up the majority of those using the services.

"As a state, by not supporting consistent quality care and early intervention services, it's affecting not only the poor, but also everyone's quality of life in our communities."

According to the report, tens of thousands of low-income women rely on government-funded child care, allowing them to work or attend school or job training. Since 2001, state funding for child care adjusted for inflation has been cut by 18 percent, and further cuts appear likely as federal recovery funding will be reduced in 2011.

Kenny Tamarkin, executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for Adult Education, says the adult education system has been under considerable strain, which is illustrated in the report.

"There's been essentially a 25-percent cut in resources, and these are resources that were inadequate a decade ago."

Women make up more than 60 percent of graduates at state public colleges and more than 60 percent in adult basic education courses, according to the study. Since 2001, state funding for higher education adjusted for inflation has fallen by 22 percent, and funding for adult basic education has been cut by 25 percent.

The report, An Unstable Ladder: How the Fiscal Crisis Threatens Work that Many Working Women Rely On, is posted at www.massbudget.org.


Monique Coppola, Public News Service - MA