In a letter to the Senate dated Oct. 31, NARC opposes Senator Coburn's proposed amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations Bill for Fiscal Year 2012, which NARC maintains would reduce Fiscal 2012 federal rural development spending by $1 billion or about 40 percent. Rural development funds pay for such programs as expansion of rural broadband and clean drinking water facilities. NARC states:
The amendment sponsored by Senator Coburn will further decimate an agency and programs already hard hit by budget cuts. In recent years, Congress and the Administration have repeatedly reduced annual appropriations for rural development. The FY 12 level recommended in the Senate’s version of H.R. 2112 is some $175 million below the FY 11 rate. Between 2003 and 2011, appropriations for rural water sewer, business programs and community facilities were cut by 30% and rural housing direct lending and related grant programs by over 50%.
The Coburn amendment will not only curtail improvements in housing, water and waste facilities, broadband deployment, and economic opportunity; it has the potential to displace thousands of families living in rural rental housing developments. The Senate bill contains appropriations to renew 205,000 expiring rural rental assistance contacts. The Coburn amendment requires that each rural development account is proportionately reduced (by 40%) to achieve a $1 billion reduction. Over 80,000 rural families – all of whom are low-income and most of whom are elderly or persons with disabilities – will face almost certain loss of their apartments if the amendment is approved and their rental assistance is terminated.