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Summary of RESULTS U.S. Campaigns for 2011
RESULTS works to find the “trimtab” campaigns that will make a substantial difference in breaking the cycle of poverty in the United States while simultaneously ensuring that our small but very engaged grassroots network makes a strategic impact. On December 17, 2010, the RESULTS/RESULTS Educational Fund Board of Directors approved the following as priority campaigns for 2011:
Goal: Protect and substantially increase funding for Head Start, Early Head Start and child care
Why This Campaign Is Important
RESULTS has been a long time advocate of quality early childhood development policies. Research shows that children who participate in a quality program during their preschool years are better prepared to learn, have higher self-esteem, and possess more developed social skills when they start kindergarten. RESULTS strongly supports increased investments in Head Start, a federally funded preschool program that provides comprehensive services to low-income children and their parents, and Early Head Start, a child development program for pregnant women and low-income families with infants and toddlers. We also advocate for investments for the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) which provides child care assistance to low-income families and provides critical funds to states to help them improve the quality of child care. Unfortunately, Head Start serves less than 50 percent of eligible preschoolers, Early Head Start serves less than 6 percent of all eligible families, and CCDBG serves only one out of seven eligible children.
Campaign Plan and Current Status
While RESULTS has a long history of working on early childhood development, we have shifted our focus away from this area for the past few years with our work on health reform and tax policy. However, we have always kept a close eye on early childhood issues and have weighed in when needed. For example, we pushed for more investment in these programs in the 2009 economic recovery bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). As a result of our work and the work of our allies, the law included $2.1 billion in temporary funding for Head Start ($1.1 billion of that is for Early Head Start) and an additional $2 billion in CCDBG funds to provide services to an additional 300,000 children and their families. Unfortunately, there have been major battles in 2011, which are ongoing, to protect early childhood development services for low-income families.
H.R.1 and Completing the FY 2011 Budget
Fortunately, the Senate rejected H.R.1 by a vote of 44-56. After weeks of negotiation and a near government shutdown, the House and Senate finally approved a final FY 2011 budget on April 14. Although this budget cuts nearly $40 billion in 2011, Head Start and child care were largely spared from cuts. Head Start/Early Head Start received a $340 million increase, which has allowed the program to maintain current service levels (including the ARRA slots). CCDBG received $100 million in new money, plus some addition funds to improve quality. This will allow some but not all of the CCDBG children served with ARRA funds to continue services. It is the work of RESULTS volunteers, staff, and our organizational allies that helped create this success.
The Budget Control Act
Unfortunately, once the FY 2011 budget was completed, Congress became embroiled in the months-long debt ceiling debate. This consumed much of the time they would have used to work on the FY 2012 budget. The debate was finally resolved on August 2, when the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA) was signed into law by the president. The BCA mandates steep budget cuts. The first round of cuts totals $1 trillion, which must come from discretionary spending (annually appropriated programs), which includes Head Start, Early Head Start, and part of CCDBG. The BCA also mandated a new “Super Committee” find at least another $1.2 trillion in cuts by Thanksgiving 2011 or face more cuts down the road. The Super Committee did not find agreement, so the automatic cuts (called “sequestration”) will begin in January 2013 unless Congress changes the law before then.
Finishing the FY 2012 Budget
With the end of the Super Committee, Congress has turned its attention back to finishing the FY 2012 budget. On September 20, the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee (Labor-HHS) met to finalize its FY 2012 appropriations bill. The Labor-HHS appropriation includes funding for Head Start, Early Head Start, and CCDBG. The subcommittee approved a $340 million increase for Head Start/Early Head Start, which will maintain the 61,000 Head Start slots created under ARRA (with this funding, the total Head Start allotment for FY 2012 would be $7.9 billion). Because of this funding, Head Start will be able to serve an estimated 968,000 low-income children and families. The bill also allocates $2.2 billion for CCDBG, including $283.6 million specified for child care quality improvement activities. This amount, while not as much as we requested, will at least maintain the FY 2011 funding levels through 2012, thus providing child care assistance to an estimated 1.6 million low-income children and their working families. The full Senate Appropriations Committee approved these levels the next day (you can read the bill language on the Senate Appropriations website). This success is due in great part to the hard work of RESULTS volunteers and RESULTS’ allies.
A week after the Senate Labor-HHS proposal passed out of committee, House Labor-HHS Chair Denny Rehberg (R-MT-AL) released his proposal for FY 2012. Surprisingly, he allocated more funding for Head Start than the Senate, a $540 million increase. This matches the President’s FY 2012 budget request of $8.1 billion for Head Start/Early Head Start. As for CCDBG, Chairman Rehberg matched the Senate request of maintaining FY 2011 funding. We are encouraged that the House recognizes the value of Head Start, Early Head Start, and CCDBG in its funding request and again appreciate the work of our volunteers and allies in helping lawmakers do so. However, Chairman Rehberg’s proposal also includes some very disturbing cuts for other programs, most notably defunding the implementation of health reform. RESULTS has not endorsed the House proposal because of these cuts. The House Labor-HHS subcommittee has not met since Chairman Rehberg released his proposal.
The FY 2012 budget was set to begin on October 1. However, the debt ceiling and Super Committee debates caused great delay in completing the FY 2012 appropriations bills; Congress passed several continuing resolutions (CR) to keep the government running until it finishes its work. With only hours remaining before a government shutdown on December 16, House and Senate negotiators finalized an “omnibus” spending bill to keep the government running through next September (the end of FY 2012). And there is very good news for advocates supporting Head Start, Early Head Start, and the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) — each of these programs will see a small increase in funding in FY 2012 so as to protect existing services. Head Start/Early Head Start will see an increase of $409 million over last year, taking its total allotment to almost $8 billion. This is almost $60 million more than what the Senate proposed back in September (but $141 million lower than the House proposal). This will ensure that all of the current slots available for low-income children are maintained, even those created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. In addition, CCDBG will see an increase of $55 million total allotment of $2.3 billion for FY 2012. This was a welcomed surprise as both the House and Senate had previously proposed no funding increase for CCDBG. The House passed the measure 296-121 and the Senate 67-32.
The Head Start and child care funding levels are a victory for RESULTS volunteers and early childhood advocates around the country. At the start of 2011, Congress was planning massive cuts to Head Start and child care as part of the FY 2011 budget. We then faced the same prospect in the FY 2012 budget. RESULTS volunteers worked hard to make the case for investing in Head Start in at least 50 face-to-face lobby meetings with members of Congress, calls, letters, e-mails, and at least 55 print media pieces.
Goal: Build Support for Matched Savings Policies, Notably the “Saver’s Bonus”
Why This Campaign Is Important
Building assets and savings helps low-income families to become financially self-reliant. In addition to increasing financial security, assets support low-income families in breaking the cycle of poverty by enabling them to weather emergencies, make investments in property, achieve a higher education, and create small business.
In addition, low-income families that are able to save money are more likely to have children who are upwardly mobile when they become adults. In other word, assets help break the cycle of poverty. to achieve this, it is particularly critical to connect low-income Americans with the financial system and with savings products. There are still relatively few organizations engaged in efforts to enact asset building policies, and even less with any grassroots capacity. This gives RESULTS a unique opportunity to make a difference.
Campaign Plan and Current Status
RESULTS has launched a multi-year campaign to enact federal legislation that creates progressive asset-based programs with a focus on the Saver’s Bonus. The Saver’s Bonus would provide a simple and flexible opportunity for millions of low-income taxpayers to begin saving at tax time. Essentially, the Saver’s Bonus allows low-income taxpayers to create savings accounts, with a dollar-for-dollar match on a portion of their tax refund, right on the tax form. Of all the asset building policies, the Saver’s Bonus stands out because it uses the existing tax system and moment of opportunity to save (while filing taxes), and provides a safe and flexible product to attract families often nervous about their financial future. The Saver’s Bonus Act, S.3372, was introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) in 2008 but did not make it out of committee. The Act has not been reintroduced but RESULTS is working with our asset development allies to get it reintroduced in 2012.
We also continue to voice our support for other asset building policies, including efforts to address asset limits in federal programs, Individual Development Accounts (IDAs), domestic microenterprise, VITA reauthorization, KIDS accounts, and the Saver’s Tax Credit. These programs help to ensure that our federal savings and ownership policies assist working-poor families and address growing wealth inequality. However, because of its ease and potential scope of use, our grassroots work continues to focus primarily on building support for the Saver’s Bonus.
Tax Credits Help Fuel Asset Development
Advocacy for the Saver’s Bonus builds on the relationship and expertise our grassroots network has developed in their successful efforts to support low-income working families through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC). The EITC is a refundable federal income tax credit for low-income working individuals and families and is the largest poverty-reduction program in the U.S. Both the EITC and CTC were expanded in 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which have helped millions of low-income working Americans make ends meet. Our work on these tax credits goes hand-in-hand with our asset development work. In fact, the EITC and CTC serve as the basis for Saver’s Bonus (refunds from these tax credits serve as seed money for new savings accounts).
To Catch a Dollar
RESULTS volunteers used a great opportunity to mobilize others in their local communities to build support innovative asset-building policies on March 31, 2011 when the film To Catch a Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America was released nationwide. The film follows women borrowers who are participating in domestic microfinance programs here in the U.S., pioneered by Nobel laureate and RESULTS Board member Muhammad Yunus. RESULTS was a national partner in the release of the film and RESULTS groups participated in 37 screenings around the country. These outreach efforts resulted in people getting a better understanding of and ways to help create solutions to poverty in America through asset development. It even netted a few new volunteers for RESULTS. Following the release, RESULTS presented several webinars highlighting poverty in America and solutions to it. See our To Catch a Dollar Resources page for more about the film and campaign.
Protecting the EITC and CTC in Deficit Reduction
In the debt ceiling negotiations during the summer of 2011, there was worry that the EITC and CTC programs might get cut. Fortunately, in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), which was signed on August 2, the EITC and CTC were protected from an initial round of $1 trillion in spending cuts. They are also protected from automatic cuts (i.e. sequestration) that are set to begin in 2013. However, the BCA also created a congressional “Super Committee” which was charged with finding an additional $1.2 trillion in budget savings by Thanksgiving 2011. Unlike the BCA and sequestration, the Super Committee had no restrictions on the programs it could cut. Fortunately, any proposals to cut the EITC and CTC in the Super Committee (which negotiated in secret) became moot when the committee failed to reach an agreement by the Thanksgiving deadline. Because of this, the sequestration cuts (and the protections for many anti-poverty programs) will begin in January 2013.
RESULTS’ 2011 Work to Expand Economic Opportunity for All
RESULTS spent several months in 2011 urging lawmakers to reject cuts to the EITC and CTC in the Super Committee and to implement low-income savings policies, including the Saver’s Bonus. We also urged Congress to work on closing the enormous wealth gap in America today between the rich and low-income America. While significant action was not taken by Congress on asset development in 2011 due to the numerous budget and deficit reduction fights, we will continue to educate and advocate to Congress on these policies moving forward. With the upcoming expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the ARRA expansions to the EITC and CTC next year, there is a great opportunity in 2012 to build support for these policies and possibly see their implementation in the coming years, particularly if Congress takes up major tax reform.
Grassroots Health and Expansion campaign
We plan to increase the focus on supporting groups to do outreach with several outreach-focused monthly actions and conference calls with our groups, making outreach a priority coordinated action rather than something groups squeeze in during busy legislative work. As a staff, we will work to expand our network, particularly on college and university campuses (i.e. our Campus for Change program), and in target areas based on key policymakers or strategic alliances.
In addition, we will continue to support our groups to engage in fundraising, building on the success of our grassroots network in rising to the challenge of maintaining our domestic staff capacity. In 2011 our domestic grassroots groups raised over $29,000 outside of the major annual fundraising events – twice as much as they had in previous years. In 2011 we hope to effectively leverage the relationships they have in their local communities to recruit major donors and local foundations to support our work.
This page was finalized on January 5, 2012.