In Greater Lowell and in Massachusetts ~ Sequestration – the Local Impact

The hot topic nationally and locally is the issue of sequestration – its reach and fall-out. Many pundits and editorial writers have weighed-in on its perceived realities and the politics swirling around the issue. The Executive Director of Community Teamwork – Karen Frederick and CTI’s Director of Planning – Cheryl Amey have their very experienced views in today’s Lowell Sun as a rebuttal to the recent Sun editorial suggesting “barely a ripple” locally. With their permission we have it here for our readers:

A few weeks ago the Lowell Sun printed an editorial, “Sequestration Foolishness,” which suggested that there is barely a ripple of an impact on any Massachusetts resident.  The implication was that sequestration doesn’t matter and that there will be no impact on Lowell.

That’s not the case.

Last week Congress passed legislation to protect air traffic controllers from furloughs resulting from the sequester.  News reports of the impact of flight delays on the economy propelled Congress into action. What is lost on Congress is that the sequester’s impact on families and on communities like Lowell also impacts the economy.  The last thing our country needs right now is anything that will further weaken our economic recovery and yet that is exactly the impact the sequester will have.

As a result of the sequester, in Massachusetts –

  • 500 children will lose child care assistance. Parents of young children need child care in order to obtain and retain a job, which makes child care key to the economy. The fact is – working parents need child care.
  • 1,100 fewer children will be served by Head Start, the federal pre-school program designed to give low income children a chance to start school ready to succeed – more on par with their wealthier counterparts, which affects their future performance in school and increases the likelihood they will graduate from high school (and hopefully go to college).
  • 26,970 adults will no longer receive job search assistance. If we are going to strengthen the economy in our state, then those who have the hardest time finding a job need some help so that they can contribute to our communities, pay taxes, and become self-sufficient
  • 2,940 fewer children will receive vaccines to combat illnesses and to promote healthy development.
  • 160 fewer disabled children will receive assistance when our state loses $13.4 million in education aid for disabled children.
  • Meals for the elderly will be cut by $535,000
  • 500 fewer battered women will receive assistance as they try to escape from situations involving domestic violence.
  • Juvenile justice grant funding will be cut by $300,000, which translates to fewer police in our communities.

When cuts are allocated throughout the state, the impact may be diffuse but, for those who are directly affected, the cuts will be great. For communities like Lowell, the impact translates to fewer parents employed who will pay taxes and purchase goods and services in the community. For children, the loss of child care or inability to participate in Head Start may have a life-long impact. Fewer seniors who receive fuel assistance or food may endanger their health and well-being. In addition, the these cuts all have an impact on small businesses—fuel delivered and meals prepared all represent jobs for others who do not directly receive assistance.  Grocers and vendors who supply services like fuel are part of our local economy.

The sequester does matter.  While we may not know at this time the exact impact on Lowell, by the time we do know it, it will be too late. The damage will be done. Community Teamwork Inc. (CTI) seeks to assist low-income people to become self-sufficient and to alleviate the effects of poverty. As an economic engine within the community, our goal is strengthen the economy in Lowell by strengthening families and small businesses.  We have an array of programs funded by the federal government that at their core help individuals to work and contribute to our local economy and help small businesses grow. Demand for services far exceeds the resources we have.  The sequester may not be visible, but the impact will be clear. Fewer parents who can get the child care they need to work, less money in the pockets of small business including local oil dealers and grocers, and layoffs in one of our community’s largest employers all undercut Lowell’s ability to grow the area’s economy.

It is up to us to let Congress know – if they can protect air traffic controllers from furloughs, then they can help those who are most vulnerable among us.  And, in doing so, they will promote an economic development strategy that communities like Lowell need to survive and to prosper.

Karen Frederick, Executive Director

Cheryl Amey, PhD, Chief Planning Officer

Community Teamwork, Inc. Community Teamwork, Inc. 

(For full disclosure ~ I am a member of the Community Teamwork, Inc. Board of Directors. I have served as the representative from the Town of Tewksbury since 1992. My tenure  includes serving four terms as the President.)

One Response to In Greater Lowell and in Massachusetts ~ Sequestration – the Local Impact

  1. Bob Forrant says:

    Wow – who knew the Sun’s editorial genius would write an editorial without any research or information at all to back it up? Actually, I’d be more surprised if something was fact based. How could anyone think that a community that relies so much on federal funding for it public schools, public safety, higher education, research dollars coming into the university, etc. wouldn’t be affected if the federal budget was chopped up? The Sun’s efforts at writing any detailed and serious pieces about the regional, state, and national economy are likely compromised by its editorial stance.