A message from Oregon Volunteers Executive Director Kathleen Joy on the House 2011 budget proposal to eliminate CNCS

This was sent this to our AmeriCorps program listserv this morning, and we also wanted to share it with you, to help answer any questions you might be getting about the current House 2011 budget proposal to eliminate CNCS:

In view of the ongoing traffic on the AC listserv, as well as the number of messages floating out around the country from a variety of national service partners, I wanted to take a minute to touch base with AmeriCorps programs operating in Oregon with a bit of my perspective on the current budget situation.

I know that it is frightening and angst-inducing to current members, sponsors and alums to read or hear that the House Republican budget has eliminated all funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service in it's 2011 omnibus package. For those of you who are relatively new to this work (ie, anything past the Clinton years) it is important to understand that we were zeroed out of every House budget every year that Clinton was in office.....but we were always funded in the end. That continued funding was a result of good works happening on the ground that became evident to elected officials from both parties who saw the greater good occurring in their communities as a result of national service involvement.

There were some rocky times at the beginning of the Bush II administration as a result of some weak management practices at the Corporation, but once those were resolved, we were stable in our funding for years....and of course, began to grow at an even faster rate than the President requested towards the

end of the Bush II administration - again, because of good works happening on the ground.

With the arrival of President Obama, we went on a growth trajectory that was supported by both parties, with strong support coming out of both the House and Senate 2011 funding plans for national service that weren't ever passed by the last Congress...leaving us open to the situation in which we find ourselves today - looking much more vulnerable on paper than I believe we are.

You should also know that the entire Oregon delegation (including Representative Walden on most occasions) are very supportive of national service and pledge their support. I feel confident that they will cast their votes in favor of our continuation when the time comes.

My personal feeling is that we shouldn't waste the political capitol of our partners or our organizations at this early stage in the budget process....it would be different if we didn't have 100% support from our delegation, but we do - and they don't need to hear from hundreds of us to do the right thing.

When we will need the help is after the House and Senate each pass their versions of the 2011 appropriation bills and it is time for them to reconcile....that's when the rubber will hit the road for me...and where all of our voices will be important.

And then they will be important again when we get to the 2012 budget, where I think it will be much harder to sustain the President's requested expansion.

At the same time, I recognize that people do want to do something...and that's a good sign for all of us.

We have put a link to Voices for National Service, the advocacy organization of which we are a part on our facebook page: www.facebook.com/oregonvolunteers

It has continually updated information and strategies for people to consider when planning their approach and making their decisions about advocating on our behalf. Encourage people to go there for information.

I hope that this overview is helpful to you and provides some perspective that might be difficult for you or others to see through the barrage of messages coming at us from all directions.

Please don't hesitate to call or write if you need more information.

Thanks for all you do,

Kathleen

Posted on February 25, 2011.