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Hundreds of companies urge Trump to resolve tariff dispute with China. Also on our Friday rundown: California moves closer to universal health coverage. Plus, new Gulf restoration projects – a decade after the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Daily Newscasts

Economic Stimulus Package Possible Solution to Federal Budget Shortfalls

December 29, 2008

Columbus, OH - With federal funds shrinking, many social advocacy groups are looking to lawmakers for innovative ways to stem cuts to important programs in the coming year. When Congress reconvenes next week to finalize the 2009 budget, some suggest priorities should focus on ways to stop robbing one social program to pay for another. Advocates say the economic stimulus package may be the solution.

As just one example of this kind of thinking, Ferd Hoefner, policy director of the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, says that instead of cutting farming and conservation projects to support the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) feeding program, additional funds for some such essential programs could actually come from the rescue package.

"We are trying to ensure the WIC feeding program gets money in the stimulus bill which is sorely needed because hunger is increasing as food prices go up and unemployment goes up."

According to Hoefner, the agriculture programs currently slated to receive cuts in the appropriations bill include organic research, farm conservation and assistance for beginning farmers and ranchers. He adds funding that was already carefully negotiated for agriculture programs is just the beginning of what's needed.

"Frankly, the farm bill included some really important advances in conservation and energy and specialty crops and elsewhere but not nearly enough."

Now is the time, says Hoefner, to encourage lawmakers to be creative as they work together to ensure no essential services are left out in the cold.

Mary Kuhlman/Elizabeth Grattan, Public News Service - OH