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Locals Vow Youth Service Cuts Won’t Stand

September 26, 2012

NEW YORK - The midyear cuts to youth programs in this year's Nassau County budget are now a full-year proposition for next year's budget - and local opposition to the cuts is growing.

Mimi Pierre Johnson, who has a son in kindergarten and is an organizer with New York Communities for Change, is one of the approximately 1,000 Nassau County residents who say they'll send messages to county lawmakers letting them know they need to find $7 million in next year's budget for youth programs.

"Especially on Long Island, where the mortgages are so high, taxes are so high and they are already struggling; to cut youth programs that help parents to know that their kids are safe from 3 o'clock until 6 o'clock - it's unimaginable as a mother."

Karina Claudio, lead organizer for Make the Road New York, says her group is helping hundreds of local families send the message to county lawmakers that the youth-service cuts are unacceptable. Her group is also concerned with cuts to other human services, which she says fall disproportionately on local immigrants and seniors.

"So, we're asking them to restore funding and to find a resolution in the new budget that just came out last week, that would put people before politics."

Steve McFarland, lead Long Island organizer for the Center for Popular Democracy, says the county will pay more in the long run for cuts to vital services such as after-school reading and gang-prevention programs.

"But it's also an investment in the kids and an investment in the communities for the future. If we don't have these programs to help keep them occupied and to help them succeed in school, that's going to have costs down the road."

The Nassau County Youth Board ran out of funding two months ago, after $4 million in midyear budget cuts, but the office remained in operation through private donations until last Friday, when it had to shut its doors.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY