Stop Further Cuts to the Family Independence Program

Balancing the needs of all of Rhode Island’s residents and putting resources into worthy programs is what an effective government is about. When Rhode Island uses a tiny fraction of its revenue to support the Family Independence Program, they are not giving money away. I would like to quote Geoff Schoos, candidate for State Senate in Rhode Island, who summarized why the FIP program is so valuable:

The FIP works. People who leave the program start jobs well above minimum wage. They become consumers of goods and services and contribute tax dollars for the acquisition of public goods. Moreover, more people who leave Rhode Island’s FIP remain off the program than do their counterparts in Massachusetts and Connecticut. And, according to the state’s own annual FIP report, less than 10% of those in the program came from out-of-state – hardly supporting the detractors’ derision of the program as some sort of state sponsored welfare haven.

Right now the budget contains a proposed cut of $5.9 million to the Family Independence Program, a program which supports impoverished families as they train and prepare to enter the workforce. There are 22,000 children — 42% of whom are under age 6 — who will be hurt by these cuts.

One Rhode Island is doing an action today to contact Speaker Murphy and Chairman Costantino:

One Rhode Island Action Alert

22,000 CHILDREN ARE AT RISK

CALL SPEAKER MURPHY (222-2466) AND CHAIRMAN COSTANTINO (222-8028) AND TELL THEM NOT TO CUT THE FAMILY INDEPENDENCE PROGRAM

Spending down by 24%
Enrollment down by 35%
(Since the start of the Program in 1997)

Current State Spending: $13 million
Proposed Budget Cuts: $5.9 million

6 thoughts on “Stop Further Cuts to the Family Independence Program

  1. I attended the Women’s Fund meeting last month where this program was the topic. There are three issues.

    1) Think like an administrator with finite funds. If you wish to preserve them make the case for the real long-term costs if they’re cut; the actual net gain for producing a contributing member to our society and/or where else the budget could be trimmed.

    2) Be prepared to make the argument to the middle class taxpayer that after subsidized daycare and health insurance that the beneficiary will not be receiving as much or more than a single or dual income median household in RI. These taxpayers will want to know what the incentive is to work harder and still end up in parity with the beneficiaries of this program.

    3) Similar to #1 show anecdotally how the program works and that it is NOT being abused, so taxpayers feel it is a program that is well worth it to help children and families at risk.

    I hope this helps.

  2. Thanks, Carl. Very helpful.

    Interestingly, I called Murphy’s office early in the day and told them to stop the cuts to the FIP program. They took my message and that was it. A friend of mine called later in the day and they took his message, then told him to stay on the line as they forwarded his calls to the Governor’s office, since “the Governor is really responsible for these cuts.” Sounds like Murphy got a lot of calls and by the end of the day he was looking to shift responsibility and blame onto the Governor, in the hopes of preserving his reputation as a democrat. Fat chance if he lets these cuts go through.

  3. If you like flogging yourself, take a look at the proposed expenditure increases for ACI and the general assembly and tell me that some creative shifting and compromises couldn’t cover the proposed cuts to FIP.

  4. These cuts are a travesty, especially in light of the tax cut we just gave to people making more than $250,000.

    If you want to see where we’re headin with these budget priorities, take a trip to Mississippi. No taxes, no services, no income for any but a very few. Oh wait–aren’t there casinos on the gulf coast?

    Yep, that’s where we’re heading.

  5. This echos what Klaus was driving at. What’s really tragic in the FIP situation is that while the legislature is going to end up cutting, if not gutting that program, the legislature certainly has more than sufficient energy and creativity to ram through an amendment to the constitution to permit a pig in a poke gambling casino deal. The leadership of both chambers expends its political capital on the construction of a casino that many of those on FIP won’t be able to afford to enter, let alone enjoy.

    David Shipler in The Working Poor had it right – the poor in America are invisible and therefore don’t count. FIP shouldn’t be saved and expanded b/c helping those in need is the right thing to do, although it is. FIP should be saved and expanded b/c it’s the smart thing to do – helping people to stand on the first rung of a long ladder not only reclaims the dignity of individual lives but also creates stronger communities. That helps us all. Funding the FIP is an investment in ourselves as opposed to a casino, which is an investment to benefit a very few located elsewhere.

  6. Excellent points all. Build those bridges and remember extinction befalls incumbency without compassion.

    I like to think of it as political darwinism….

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