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2011 Budget Cuts: A Matter of Life and Death

Resource type: News

The Nation | [ View Original Source (opens in new window) ]

Proposed budget cuts have spurred widespread national resistance in the form of protests, and in some cases, hunger strikes. Yesterday, several leaders of progressive organizations, including executives of, SEIU, the Center for Community Change and, announced that they too will be joining the group of 6,000 participants in a fast to oppose austerity.

In Olympia, rallies and protests scheduled for this weekend are expected to attract thousands of anti-cut union members, students and community organizers. The attendees argue lawmakers should focus on closing corporate tax loopholes, not cutting social services. Among the state’s proposed austerity measures: $15 million in cuts to nursing homes, axing the State Arts Commission, and slashing higher education funds.

Penn State’s Abington campus joined up with Temple University students in a rally to oppose Gov. Tom Corbett’s radical funding cuts for state-supported universities. Corbett has proposed cutting university funding in half, which according to Temple University means yanking $90 million from its budget. Put another way, if this downfall was made up solely by a tuition hike, each in-state student would pay an extra $5,000.

In New Hampshire, thousands of protesters chanted outside the State House on Thursday in opposition to their state’s budget that cuts deeply into social programs and strips unions of their collective bargaining rights. The House reduced spending by a whopping $742 million, while the GOP cut the tobacco tax and changed the taxation of small business profits, a move that could actually strip $100 million from the state over the next two years.

Texans held a daylong vigil outside the state Capitol yesterday in response to the proposed massive budget cuts to healthcare and education that are being called “historic.” The House budget includes a 10 percent reduction in funding for doctors and hospitals that treat children covered by Medicaid, but providers say the budget cuts actually amount to a 30 percent loss since the state will lose billions in federal matching funds.

For a party so ostensibly concerned with death panels and the sanctity of life, the GOP-dominated house shows a shocking lack of concern for the children whose lives depend on Medicaid funding.

“Each day, we see another piece of her die,” [Teresa] Little said, standing by her granddaughter, who sat in a wheelchair. “I was literally sickened when I heard about the proposed health care cuts. We won’t have any health care options left. On behalf of the millions of Texas children on Medicaid, I implore you to please leave our Medicaid alone.”

“Medicaid has meant a lot to our family and taken care of our son,” said Michael Ayala, who traveled from Corpus Christi with his wife. “If they start cutting these programs, it will put a huge hole in our pocket.”

The president and CEO of Texas Hospital Association, Dan Stultz, says the budget cuts will permanently maim rural hospitals, and in order for facilities to remain open, they’ll likely have to stop services that are not as profitable, including ambulances and prenatal care. Stultz stresses that lawmakers are cutting prenatal care for tens of thousands of poor women under this bill.  

Center for Community Change is an Atlantic grantee.

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