From: Elena Doucet-Beer [mailto:elena@...
Sent: Friday, April 01, 2005 2:26 PM
Subject: Legislative Update from MCN: Federal Budget Action Alert &
Minnesota Council of Nonprofits
Legislative Update 2005
Volume 10, Issue 12 April 1, 2005
The Update is available by fax or by e-mail, or can be viewed at
To make changes to your subscription, please call 651-642-1904 x250 or
Federal Budget Action Alert & Update
Now that both the U.S. House and Senate have passed separate Federal
Budget Resolutions, a joint House-Senate Conference Committee will begin
meeting the week of April 4 in an effort to resolve the differences
between the two budgets and present a Budget Conference Report to the
full House and Senate.
Neither the House nor Senate Budget Resolutions produces a balanced
budget. In fact, both budgets produce substantial deficits going well
into future years. At the same time that these resolutions are awash in
red ink, they also include drastic cuts in federal spending for
Medicaid, the Supplemental Children's Health Insurance Program, Food
Stamps, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), and various other programs
that are vital to the well-being of low- and moderate-income
Time is of the essence and we must act quickly to convey our concerns to
our Minnesota Congressional Delegation. Both Senator Coleman and
Senator Dayton took votes in the first round of budget deliberations
that would protect funding for Medicaid. They could play a key role in
protecting Medicaid, Food Stamps, and other programs in this next state
of the budget debate:
Please take the following action immediately!
1. Please have your organization sign on to the letter
below (also available online at www.mncn.org/bp/ccsignon.pdf) to
Senators Dayton and Coleman asking them to oppose any cuts in
Medicaid/Medical Assistance funding and to support the lowest possible
cuts in other programs that serve low- and moderate-income Minnesotans.
Due to the anticipated short schedule of the Budget Conference
Committee, please reply to the sign-on letter no later than close of
business TUESDAY, APRIL 5, 2005.
2. Use the sign-on letter as a template to write your
own letter to our two Minnesota Senators. Explain how important these
programs are to your organization and how the people you serve will be
hurt if the final Budget Conference Report includes the big cuts in the
House-passed Budget. You can also call on us for help identifying how
your program or issue would be affected.
To learn more about what the key provisions in the House and Senate
Budget Resolutions and the impact that they would have in Minnesotans,
see our analysis Low-Income Minnesotans Could Lose Big in Federal Budget
Please feel free to circulate the sign-on letter to your friends and
allies, although please note that we are only seeking organizational
signatories at this time.
If you have any questions about this sign-on letter or other aspects of
the federal budget process, please contact Steve Francisco at (651)
642-1904 or steve@...
FEDERAL BUDGET SIGN ON LETTER - PLEASE REPLY BY APRIL 5, 2005.
Honorable Mark Dayton
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Honorable Norm Coleman
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Dayton / Senator Coleman:
We are writing to express our concern about the pending Budget
Conference Committee and some of the key decisions which the conferees
will soon be considering regarding Medicaid and Food Stamps, the Earned
Income Tax Credit (EITC), and several other important federal programs
that benefit low- and moderate-income Minnesota families, seniors,
children, and people with disabilities.
First of all, however, we want to express our sincere appreciation to
you for your recent vote for the Smith-Bingaman Amendment during floor
consideration of the Senate Budget Resolution, which deleted proposed
cuts in Medicaid funding. As you know, the President's Budget proposed
a $45 billion reduction in funding for Medicaid and SCHIP that totaled
$60 billion over the 10-year period from 2006 to 2015.
The House-passed Budget Resolution would require between $15 billion to
$20 billion in cuts to Medicaid and/or the State Children's Health
Insurance Program (SCHIP). In 2002, over 397,000 Minnesotans received
Medical Assistance (the state's Medicaid program). These important
federal health insurance programs are certainly one of the reasons that
Minnesota has one of the lowest levels of uninsured individuals and
uninsured children in the nation. Any substantial cuts to Medicaid and
SCHIP, such as those included in the House Budget Resolution, will
undoubtedly result in a significant number of Minnesota families losing
their health insurance.
We urge you in the strongest terms to continue to oppose any cuts in
Medicaid and SCHIP in the final Budget Conference Report, as expressed
in your vote for the Smith-Bingaman Amendment, and to convey this view
to the conferees and leadership.
We are also very concerned about proposed cuts to the Food Stamp
Program. Since its creation in the 1960s, the Food Stamp Program, along
with the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program, have
substantially reduced the incidence of hunger and malnutrition among
low-income Americans. Over 253,000 Minnesotans participate in the Food
The House Budget Resolution assigns $5.3 billion in cuts to the
Agriculture Committee, where the Committee's leadership has indicated
that they are likely to make cuts to Food Stamps which will be
substantially larger than the $600 million reduction proposed in the
President's Budget. In contrast, the Senate Budget Resolution provides
for $2.8 billion in agriculture program cuts.
Food stamp benefits currently average less than $1 per person per meal.
There is no justification for deep cuts in this program which is so
vital to the well-being of over a quarter million low-income
Minnesotans. We urge you to strongly oppose any Budget Conference
provision which would cut agriculture programs above the $2.8 billion
figure in the Senate Budget Resolution.
A third area of concern involves the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC),
which provides tax relief to low-income working Americans. The EITC is
the federal government's most successful anti-poverty program. In 2002,
over 248,000 Minnesota families claimed the EITC. The House Budget
Resolution would require the Ways and Means Committee to cut $18.7
billion from programs under its jurisdiction. When asked how the
Committee would achieve this cut, Chairman Nussle mentioned only one
program: the EITC. If the Ways and Means Committee were to achieve all
of its $18.7 billion in cuts from the EITC, the credit would have to be
cut by $3.9 billion in 2006, or 11% from its current level. This would
mean reducing the average EITC for Minnesotans by $200 annually.
In effect, any reduction in the EITC will result in a tax increase
specifically aimed at low-income working Minnesotans, at the same time
that both the House and Senate are supporting over $100 billion tax cuts
directed toward the highest-income Americans. Such an approach to tax
policy is fundamentally regressive, unbalanced, and unfair.
We remain concerned that even if the EITC is spared, a final Budget
Conference Report which resembles the House-passed Budget Resolution
could lead to big cuts for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and other
key human services programs, such as the Temporary Assistance for Needy
Families (TANF) block grant, child support enforcement, the Social
Services Block Grant (SSBG), and foster care and adoption assistance
programs. Under the House approach to the Budget Resolution, these
programs collectively could be facing cuts of $4.1 billion over the next
five years and $1.1 billion in 2006 alone. Given our ongoing budget
deficits at the state level, Minnesota could not shoulder the burden if
the federal government steps back from its responsibilities to some of
the most vulnerable people in our state.
Regrettably, the House Budget Resolution represents a significant
departure from any semblance of a fair and balanced approach to sound
budget, spending, and tax policy. Instead, it is highly unbalanced, and
would impose massive service cuts on low-income Minnesotans to pay for a
new round of tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest people in America.
We urge you to work with the Budget conferees to properly resolve the
concerns which we have expressed. Specifically, we urge you to oppose
any cuts in Medicaid and SCHIP which are inconsistent with your vote for
the Smith-Bingaman Amendment. With respect to other programs, we urge
you to support the lowest possible cuts consistent with the Senate
Budget Resolution. Simply "splitting the difference" with the House
conferees will result in devastating cuts to programs vital to
low-income Minnesotans. We also urge you to convey your concerns at the
earliest date to the conferees and the Senate and House leadership.
We are prepared, of course, to provide you with any information or
assistance you may need to resolve these matters in a way that protects
the concerns of low-income working families, children, seniors, and
people with disabilities here in Minnesota.
To sign on to this letter, please fill in the information below and
return no later than
5:00 p.m., Tuesday, April 5, to:
Steve Francisco at steve@...
or fax: 651-642-1517. We will send it
to Senator Coleman and Senator Dayton and release it to the press on
Organization Name (as you want it to appear on the letter):
Contact person name:
Contact person title:
Contact person email:
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]