Greenpoint and the Sequester: Chat With State Comptroller DiNapoli

We’ve all heard of the Sequester, the terribly and amazingly large amount of money the U.S. government is currently slashing from the budget, what President Obama has referred to as taking a “meat-cleaver approach.” This slashing of public spending, with some war/defense spending, was heralded as an only solution and coded under many names, including the Grand Bargain and the Fiscal Cliff.

How will the Sequester affect Greenpoint?

To answer, I reached out to many of Greenpoint’s elected representatives. Of those who responded, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli‘s office was most helpful.

DiNapoli’s office responded that “details about how sequestration will affect the State as a whole are still pretty vague” but that the total cut for local NY State governments would be around $140 million – and that’s only through September, 2013, citing this report.

DiNapoli’s own report from December 2012 warned “the State would lose more than $210 million in federal funding for education, well over $100 million for health and human services and a similar amount for housing programs.”

The table at the end of this report is a bleak look at cuts to programs needed by the most vulnerable among us. To choose one of personal note: the WIC program, which helped feed me and my three siblings and mother when we were little, is having its budget cut by almost $33,000 from 2012, which is a lot of food in hungry kitchens.

DiNapoli’s office did have the encouraging word that “Medicaid is largely exempt from these cuts, as are food stamps and temporary assistance for needy families” although the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities issued this report with the worrying title: “The Impact of the Sequester on WIC: 575,000 to 750,000 Eligible Low-Income Women and Children At Nutritional Risk Could Be Denied Benefits.” Hundreds of thousands of people go hungry every day in Brooklyn.

Also, some EPA Clean Water Grants will be cut – those seem important. Air Quality Grants, as well.

Assemblyman Joe Lentol also responded, sending some links as well as some information they gathered from Congresswoman Maloney’s office, although Lentol’s office wrote that “[no] one really knows how the sequester will affect agencies specifically because most agencies will have the autonomy to be able to decide where the cuts will be.”

Lentol’s office also sent a small pile of materials (via email) including:
- This report from the Washington Post, detailing how each state will fare under the Sequester. New York State will lose more than $42 million in teacher/school money, meaning “70,000 fewer students would be served.” Also, over 42,000 people looking for work under Jobs-search assistance programs will not be served. Cuts will also affect nutrition assistance for seniors, public health, violence against women programs, etc.

- This report from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Rep. Nadler, and Congresswoman Maloney warns of housing assistance cuts totaling over $100 million; education cuts at almost $200 million; $19 million cut from the WIC program (which feeds mothers and children); and $10 million each from Homeless Services and Home Heating Assistance (and no Chavez to come to the rescue!).

Lentol’s office also provided a brief write-up of articles and reports detailing the Sequester’s affects with horrendous headlines like “Cancer clinics are turning away thousands of Medicare patients” and “Sequestration’s unkindest cut is to housing assistance.”

All this while the country’s big businesses are dancing in capital.

The Progressive Caucus seems to be the only heartbeat left in the aorta-less Washington DC, having just released another important refutation of the Sequester – the “Back To Work Budget,” which promises to create seven million jobs, preserve earned benefits (also erroneously called “entitlements”) and create full funding for domestic social programs. Increasing the number of Americans working (and thus taxes paid), raising taxes on the rich, and desperately needed reductions in military spending will deal with the deficit reduction.

As of the 2011 census data, between zip codes 11222 and 11211 there are almost 50,000 people using public assistance, out of a population of 127,051. The proportion of people below the poverty level in 11222 is 12%, while in 11211 it is a staggering 33%.

About Joel

Help write/make Handoutzine.com; Boulevardiers, a novel based on the industrial history of Greenpoint: part of Arts & Culture Committee, Brooklyn For Peace; support the Greenpoint Soup Kitchen! @jlchaffee

3 Comments

  1. Kingston says:

    Nicely done article.

    Reply
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