Local budget cuts are having a major impact on many of our neighbors within the National Capital Region and as commentators Chuck Bean and Glen O’Gilvie note, some elected officials will be making important decisions during the next few weeks.
Bean is with the Nonprofit Roundtable and O’Gilvie is with the Center for Nonprofit Advancement…
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Chuck: Times are tough. Many families face foreclosure and all of us can probably name someone who has lost a job. More people are looking for help, and they are turning to the local services nonprofits provide. Services such as area food pantries, job-training programs, and help with housing. Without these services, our neighbors most in need will experience greater problems and our local economy won’t be well positioned when prosperity returns.
Glen: When considering ways to handle budget deficits, local governments usually begin by reducing services. But, cutting funding for temporary housing will mean more homeless families. Less funding for job training will help fewer people find new jobs. Cutting support for community-based health centers will send more people to more-expensive emergency rooms. This isn’t charity. Doing the right thing for our neighbors will enhance our communities. Cuts could cost us all in the long run.
Chuck: For example, in Maryland it costs taxpayers $25,000/year for each child who remains in the child welfare system. Local nonprofits work with the government to place children with families at an annual cost of just $7,200.
If 50 percent of elderly adults who receive in-home care from a local nonprofit were instead placed in nursing homes, the total annual cost would be 15 times higher - or $96 million a year.
Glen: By partnering with local nonprofits, governments have accomplished so much for our neighbors through investments in critical community services related to health, education, human services, arts, environment protection, job training, housing, child development and public safety. We need to protect these investments and ensure that residents have a “helping hand” during this economic downtown.
Chuck: Nonprofit organizations multiply the impact of city and county funds by leveraging donations from foundations, corporations, and individual donors and then multiply these funds further with volunteers and in-kind donations.
Glen: This is why our nearly 1,000 members - from the Center for Nonprofit Advancement and the Nonprofit Roundtable - have come together to urge our local leaders to “think twice before you slice.” Budget shortfalls cannot be strung together with a cuts-only approach. There needs to be a balanced approach, one that includes identifying new resources to help maintain services that residents count on.
Chuck: Increasingly, forward-looking jurisdictions in our region are taking a balanced approach to the recession. In both Loudoun and Prince William counties, 15 percent cuts were proposed, but officials restored that funding to support non-profit health and human services. Fairfax County restored $11.4 million for critical services originally targeted for reduction.
Glen: Now, the Northern Virginia budgets are done. Next up are the budgets in the District, Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. Will elected officials there do the right thing?
We understand what’s at stake. While our local leaders face hard choices, we ask that they consider the benefits, not just the costs, when evaluating the investments in local services and in nonprofits.
Chuck: There is a story unfolding in our region and it affects people we know. Residents can play a role in this story by calling their elected officials. Tell them that those who need services are often the hardest hit by a downturn in the economy. If we reduce support, these services are in jeopardy.
Glen: To find out more..go to Thinktwicecampaign.org.
Chuck: I’m Chuck Bean
Glen: and I’m Glen O’Gilvie.