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Another Budget Hit for NC's Safety Net Programs?

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 By Stephanie Carroll CarsonContact
April 19, 2013

RALEIGH, N.C. – Community action agencies in North Carolina are bracing for more cuts to what they say are already slim budgets.

President Barack Obama has included a 50 percent reduction in community service block grant funding in his budget proposal.

Sharon Goodson, executive director of the North Carolina Community Action Association, says the cuts will have a big impact on the people served by her organization.

"It's devastating to hear that the budget proposes a 50 percent cut,” she says. “(It) would certainly have a significant impact in our state – and particularly the people that we serve, the low-income people."

In North Carolina, there are 1.6 million people living in poverty. The 36 community action agencies in the state are already preparing for cuts that will come in September as a result of the sequester.

Almost one in five people in North Carolina lives in poverty, three percent higher than the national average.

Amanda Sheely, assistant professor at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Social Work, says efforts at the national and state level to curb budgets are prompting lawmakers to be shortsighted.

"We have a government that's really worried about 'immediate balancing budget,'” she says, “instead of looking at the long-term impacts of these short investments. "

A report by the Economic Policy Institute says low-wage workers in the U.S. are actually worse off than their low-wage counterparts in seven other developed countries, including Canada and Japan.

Sheely says reducing funding to programs such as early childhood education adds to the problem.

"It has incredible repercussions, in terms of their educational attainment, their long-term physical and mental health,” she says. “Cutting these programs now or limiting access to these programs now – we'll pay for it in the long run."


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