President Bush’s proposed budget cuts would hurt the most vulnerable children and families in Arkansas and nationwide, while extending and expanding tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonprofit organization in Washington. Arkansas alone would lose $664 million in federal spending for domestic programs, the center said, part of $214 billion in cuts nationwide for education, child care and other programs that assist low-income families.
Relying on the center’s data, Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families has called on the Arkansas congressional delegation to resist Bush’s cuts. “We have faith that Sens. [Blanche] Lincoln and [Mark] Pryor will stand up for a fair and balanced budget — not one that cuts so many programs that are important to the people of Arkansas,” Rich Huddleston, executive director of AACF said in a statement.
The center’s analysis noted these cuts in Arkansas under Bush’s proposal:
• K-12 education funding would be cut 44 percent ($110 million), leaving the state less able to serve special-education students, improve teacher quality, and provide after-school programs.
• Arkansas would have to deny child-care assistance to about 1,700 otherwise eligible families.
• The state would lose $7.5 million in funding for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, meaning 7,500 fewer Arkansas families would receive the healthy foods and nutrition counseling provided by the program.
• Arkansas would lose $1.4 million in energy assistance, meaning that 3,800 fewer Arkansas residents would receive help paying their heating bill.
Huddleston pointed out that the proposed $664 million in cuts does not include possible cuts in the Medicaid program.