Monday, April 11, 2011

Budget Battles: Organizations Call on Their Troops

Though federal employees are at their desks today, still on the horizon are the debt ceiling and the 2012 budget. Here are the concerns of some organizations, followed by discussion of a report that predicts the government-provided service needs of older Americans.

Amalgamated Transit Union

ATU is involved in the movement in several states to limit collective bargaining rights via We Are One rallies. On April 13, ATU will hold a National Day of Protest. Information about these events and a video and photograph contest are on ATU's homepage. In March, ATU hosted a boot camp training to educate labor and transit about how to establish transit advocacy coalitions. Ballot initiatives were also discussed.

American Public Health Association
APHA is ringing alarm bells about possible outcomes of the budget battle for medical care, Medicare, Medicaid and health care reform.

National Association of Area Agencies on Aging

N4A joins with the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations in a letter to Congress to oppose proposed cuts to programs involving the aging community. N4A supports increased transportation dollars for older Americans due to great unmet needs and growing numbers of people age 65 plus. N4A is concerned about consolidation of programs to assist transportation-challenged populations because:
We are concerned that a consolidation of these programs might give public transportation providers less incentive to partner with community-based service providers to implement transportation programs targeting older adults and people with disabilities as they have traditionally done under the Section 5310 program. Our worst fear is that in consolidation, the balance of power in decisionmaking would mean that transit agencies would be less likely to pass through 5310 funding to nonprofit providers and instead create new programs of their own or support existing targeted programs, especially in these very tough fiscal times. The vital partnership between transit agencies and non-profit service providers that 5310 has created is successful and must be protected. In addition, the New Freedom program has been used to initiate cost-effective consumer responsive options such as dial-a-ride, taxi vouchers and volunteer driver programs, not just fixed route transit. Resources to expand mobility options beyond fixed-route transit must be continued as part of any consolidation proposal.

Fear that Livability is on the Chopping Block

Smart Growth America
SGA is asking its constituency to request that Congress fund the federal interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities and its activities. There is an advocacy toolkit on SGA's website.

Unmet and Growing Needs

Government Accountability Office
OLDER AMERICANS ACT: More Should Be Done to Measure the Extent of Unmet Need for Services, a GAO report, looks at needs for services, such as transportation, at different life stages past 65, income levels, and gender. More than health status, eyesight, income or gender, the more education one has the less need for transportation services. Poor health, living alone, having a low income and being female all correlate with greater needs.

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