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Sun Dec 23, 2012, 09:30 PM

Death by a Million Cuts: What Cities Stand to Lose If We Go Over the Fiscal Cliff

All of this because Republicans refuse to raise taxes.

Like other American cities, many of Baltimore's housing, education and anti-poverty programs are funded by federal grants. If Congress doesn't have an agreement by the end of the year, sequestration dictates an across-the-board 8.2 percent cut to those funds. Here's what that might mean for Baltimore:

HOUSING: Right now, Baltimore provides 10,500 units of public housing, a whopping 4.5 percent of the city's overall households. Under sequestration, the city will have 8.2 percent less money in its public housing capital coffers. This means deferring maintenance and much needed upgrades to units and getting rid of a dozen rental units for low income residents altogether.

Section 8, which helps low-income residents pay rent, is also at risk. In Baltimore, 131,160 households use these grants to pay their rent. With sequestration, the city would receive $12.5 million less, putting the vouches of 1,080 low-income households at risk.

Even Homeless Assistance Grants would be impacted. Right now, the city expects $23 million from the feds. With the cut shelters would close, particularly those for single men without children. "Permanent supportive housing" for the long-term homeless would be shuttered, pushing hundreds of families back into the overtaxed emergency shelter system. And special programs for people with disabilities would be cut.

EDUCATION: Baltimore relies on federal funding for much of its education budget -- $56 million a year in total. Though the city has not figured out exactly what would happen if sequestration passes, officials say early education programs will likely be shuttered. The city also says sequestration could lead to $1.5 million less in Community Development Block Grants. That means few job trainings and less recreational activities for low-income youth.

POVERTY: Like other cities, Baltimore funds its anti-poverty measures largely through the Community Services Block Grant program. CSBG funds help the poor pay their electricity bills; they pay for financial literacy workshops and employment trainings; and even help low income residents file their tax returns. With the proposed cuts, Baltimore would have to fire 60 employees who help run these programs. The city would close also close six community support centers.

The city would cut back on its meals on wheels program for seniors. Every day, 330 few seniors will receive a meal.

INFRASTRUCTURE: This is where things really get hairy. A lot of the city's major transportation projects are wholly reliant on federal funding. Take, for example, the plan to upgrade the tunnels that lead to the city's main train station. The tunnels haven't had a facelift in a century; the tracks are so old and rickety that trains slow 10 mph when approaching Baltimore. If the sequestration cuts were made permanent, the $600 million project to update the the tunnels would be put on ice.

OTHER STUFF: The thing that makes all of this so troubling is that direct federal funds make up only a fraction of a city's budget. Much more money comes from state governments. Maryland, for example, stands to lose $100 million if the government goes over the fiscal cliff.

And without clarity on just how the federal government will try to plug up its debt, states are struggling to create a road map for their own infrastructure efforts. Maryland, for example, is considering raising its state gas tax to pay for a major highway and transportation overhaul. The proposal would help fund a new metro line in the Baltimore suburbs; a new bus depot for the city; and additional roads easing congestion in and out of Baltimore's port areas.


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Reply Death by a Million Cuts: What Cities Stand to Lose If We Go Over the Fiscal Cliff (Original post)
SpartanDem Dec 2012 OP
TheMadMonk Dec 2012 #1
Whovian Dec 2012 #2

Response to SpartanDem (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 02:23 AM

1. And so they lose it now, instead of later.


Right now, the ONLY debate appears to be over the rate at which social welfare programs are to be dismantled, the fact that they will ultimately be shut down appears to be taken as a given by both sides of the political divide.

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Response to SpartanDem (Original post)

Mon Dec 24, 2012, 02:29 AM

2. K&R. Needs as much exposure as possible.


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