Press Releases

Contact: First Focus
Phone: 202-657-0670

Senate Stimulus Cuts Fall Heavily on Kids

Federal Budget

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, First Focus, a bipartisan children’s advocacy organization, expressed serious disappointment over the proposed deal in the United States Senate regarding the economic recovery package.

Specifically, a recent analysis by the organization has found that in the Senate, more than 45 percent of the $83 billion in cuts proposed to the appropriations titles is from spending on children’s programs. In total, the Senate legislation provides $50 billion less for children’s programs than the package passed by the House of Representatives two weeks ago.

“Spending on programs that benefit America’s children is not only smart for our future, but is an efficient and effective economic stimulus. Helping struggling families not only keeps children out of poverty but also provides a direct infusion of resources into the economy. Unfortunately, the deal reached in the Senate was largely on the backs of America’s children, and we are disappointed to see the Senate place a diminished priority on our nation’s future,” said Bruce Lesley, President of First Focus.

“In fact, the deal cuts $50 billion from programs that specifically help America’s children, such as Head Start, school construction, education for disadvantaged children, and prevention programs. Right now, low-income families are struggling to make ends meet, child poverty is on the rise, and unemployment is skyrocketing. Yet the Senate has cut assistance for these families in need, which may lead to more children falling into poverty. Further, we are dismayed to see improvements to the Child Tax Credit virtually eliminated, which would have led to large infusions of federal dollars into low income families who are most likely to spend them – an effective economic stimulus that also keeps our children out of poverty. Through increases to education spending, child nutrition programs, the Child Tax Credit, among others, the House-passed recovery package clearly recognizes that investing in children makes good economic sense, both for the immediate boost it will provide and for the long-term dividends it will pay. Unfortunately, the legislation currently being debated in the Senate falls far short of that which passed the House.”

The largest cuts to children’s programs include the following

• School Construction. While the House bill provides $16 billion for this purpose, the Senate compromise eliminates funding entirely. Not only does this assistance directly produce jobs, an immediate stimulus, but it also ensures 21st century schools for our children.

• Child Tax Credit. The House provided $18.2 billion for the Credit, which is critical to help low income families. By rolling back improvements to the credit, the Senate has cut that amount by more than half, providing $7.5 billion. These resources are directly given to low income families who will use them in the economy immediately. In addition, this money helps keep kids out of poverty.

• Head Start. The Senate cut the House’s $2.1 billion appropriation by half, providing $1.05 billion for the critical program that promotes school readiness. This funding would directly produce jobs, since there is great demand for Head Start positions, providing immediate stimulus. Moreover, this program delivers the long-term benefit of providing comprehensive child development services to disadvantaged children to break the cycle of poverty.

• State Fiscal Stabilization Fund. The House provides $79 billion for this key fund, but the Senate only allocates $39 billion. Half of this money goes to help keep local school districts afloat, saving jobs in thousands of districts facing difficult budget cuts. And, the funds ensure the continued education of our children without having to deal with diminishing resources, teacher layoffs, and classroom mergers.

• Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps). The House provides $20 billion, while the Senate provides $16.5 billion for this program. Economists have widely acknowledged that boosting food stamps is the most efficient way to get money into the economy immediately, while also keeping kids from going hungry during economic downturns.