Time is ticking for Congress to act on automatic spending cuts scheduled to take effect in January 2013. As reported earlier this month, these $1.2 trillion in budget cuts (called a “sequester”) threaten key programs that help people in your community find work and advance in their careers.
Goodwill® is committed to protecting these critical workforce investments. This past week, we joined a video conference sponsored by the Coalition on Human Needs and heard from Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) about the consequences of these spending cuts.
The potential impact is dire. Beginning in 2013, about $109 billion in cuts could hammer defense programs (those associated with armed forces and security) and non-defense programs (including many which support low-income and unemployed individuals), with about $54.5 billion hitting non-defense programs. Efforts are already underway to eliminate the cuts for defense programs, which places the full burden of the cuts on non-defense programs.
Adding to the pressure to act, the Washington Post reported that the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the cuts would plunge the nation’s economy back into a deep recession, with unemployment rising above 9 percent or higher in the first quarter of 2013.
The Importance of Workforce Programs: Charles’ Story
To get a better idea of the human impact of these proposed budget cuts, let’s look at Charles Warren, a Vietnam veteran who battling substance abuse and found himself homeless. The VA referred Charles to Goodwill Industries® of Southeastern Wisconsin and Metropolitan Chicago (Milwaukee), and he was hired through the AbilityOne and workforce development programs funded by the US Department of Labor (DOL).
As Charles himself said, “I got a new family – a Goodwill family. I can talk to my co-workers and, most importantly, I can go to staff, talk to them, and expect some positive input. For the first time in 60 years, I have a driver’s license…and also have health insurance. Goodwill has been right there with me all the time and I’m super happy.”
What is clear is that much is at stake. If the sequester goes forward, it is not unreasonable to expect that over the next ten years the workforce programs would lose billions of dollars and tens of thousands of people needing vital job services would go unserved. The budget cuts would decimate the DOL programs that helped Charles, and end many a happy story like his before they ever start.
That is why we urge you to contact your senators and representatives, and urge them to act to stop the budget sequester.