Add your name to the list of those who support a federal budget that invests in the Latino community!

On February 14, President Obama released his proposal for the fiscal year 2012 federal budget.  We had a preview of what the president would prioritize in his State of the Union address when he called for investments in innovation, education, and infrastructure to jump-start our economy.  Given the recent and growing attention to deficit reduction and federal spending, we also anticipated that we would see difficult cuts to various programs in the proposed budget.

Add your name to the list of those who support a federal budget that invests in the Latino community!
I agree with President Obama that it is critically important to address the deficit now so we do not saddle America’s children with the burden of servicing tomorrow’s debt. I also agree that we must make wise investments to maintain our competitiveness and prepare our youth for college and the workplace. This is the basis on which budget decisions should be made. Therefore, I ask Congress to consider the following priorities as they make these important decisions that will affect our nation’s future.

In order to be globally competitive we must adequately prepare all American children to be contributing members of our economy, and this requires high levels of investment in programs that support Latino student achievement. We are disheartened by the administration’s effective elimination of the William F. Goodling Even Start Program and the Parent Information Resource Centers from this budget, two programs that have promoted Latino student success. Moreover, we are especially disappointed that the president’s proposal only includes level funding for academic programs targeting English language learners. Without reforms and investments, the United States will continue to shortchange children and put American competiveness at risk. NCLR advocates for strengthened investments in education. More information on NCLR’s education funding priorities can be found here.

Without your health, it’s hard to do much of anything. That’s why in an era of belt-tightening, we still need to make smart investments to ensure the long-term health of the nation’s families. It is important to continue supporting programs that are critical to Latinos’ health during tough economic times, such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the federal nutrition assistance programs. The federal budget should also fully fund provisions in health care reform laws that provide the foundation to improve the health experiences of Latinos, including support for health equity initiatives and community-based prevention strategies. While detailed information is still forthcoming, an initial analysis of President Obama’s budget shows mixed results, with some priority programs being cut while others are maintained at current funding levels. However, the most immediate threat to health and nutrition programs is a Republican proposal in the House of Representatives that would decimate programs for the most vulnerable families, including community health centers and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women’s Infants and Children (WIC). Download a list of health equity budget priorities that NCLR will be following here.

We applaud President Obama for including additional funding for citizenship promotion and immigrant integration in his fiscal year 2012 budget. We hope that Congress will work with the administration to continue funding essential programs that prepare immigrants to become U.S. citizens. This will avoid wasting precious resources on costly and ineffective enforcement strategies without proposing a comprehensive solution to the immigration system.

Jobs and the Economy
The federal budget must support funding for programs that help low-skilled and limited-English-proficient youth and adults prepare for jobs today and gain the necessary skills to pursue the postsecondary education and training needed for the jobs of tomorrow. These investments in the workforce should be tied to regional economic development strategies to attract businesses and job opportunities to high-need communities. We are happy to see that the president’s budget contains essential support for job training and adult education to help unemployed workers get back into the labor market and improve America’s competitiveness. It includes a promising new Competitive Innovation Fund, jointly administered by several departments, to encourage states and localities to effectively serve disadvantaged workers and jobseekers. Download an industry analysis of Latino employment here.

Juvenile Justice
Programs administered by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention support a variety of activities that prevent and reduce juvenile crime and strengthen the juvenile justice system for Latino youth. Increased federal funding is critical for these important programs, which provide fair and effective justice systems for Hispanic youth. The president’s budget proposes a significant restructuring of federal support for state juvenile justice systems, including a new grant program that consolidates current funding streams. While more information is needed about the new program and its likely effects on Hispanic youth, the continued reduction in overall juvenile justice federal appropriations will likely weaken the development of culturally competent, evidence-based prevention and intervention programs that serve Latino youth.

Assistance to the millions of homeowners affected by the foreclosure crisis must remain a priority that is reflected in the federal budget. While predatory lending and scams continue to pervade communities of color, funding for programs that have proven effective in combating these practices is critical. The president’s budget includes $88 million for housing counseling and $80 million for foreclosure counseling. This is a good start, but increased funding is needed to allow housing counseling programs to continue providing families with foreclosure prevention, rental, and financial counseling to help families recover from this economic crisis.
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