U.S. House Budget Could Slow Response to Disasters Like Hurricane Sandy

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 3:03 PM by

Downed trees, flooded streets, roofs blown off buildings – Hurricane Sandy has left a trail of destruction in her wake. Fortunately for Sandy’s victims, the federal government provides resources to help victims put the pieces of their lives back together after the storm. But returning to normal life could be more difficult for victims of future disasters if Congress approves the House version of the federal budget, authored by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, which includes deep cuts in grants to state and local governments, including grants for disaster response.

The 2013 budget passed by the U.S. House of Representatives drastically cuts federal investments in schools, roads and bridges, safe communities – and disaster relief at the state and local level. The House and the Senate have not yet been able to agree on a budget plan for 2013.

Deep cuts to the lifeline provided by state and local disaster relief would make it more difficult for people in states like New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania to recover in the aftermath of cataclysmic events like Hurricane Sandy. And while Wisconsin lies outside the hurricane zone, we are also susceptible to disaster in the form of tornadoes, crippling snowstorms, and flooding. Currently, state and local governments are able to respond adequately to aid victims of disasters in Wisconsin, but that could change if federal support dries up under the House Budget.

The cuts proposed by the House Budget to disaster response and other important services are big ones. Under that plan, Wisconsin would lose an estimated 22%, or $413 million, of its in federal funding for a variety of important state and local services in 2014 alone. Over the eight years from 2011 to 2021, the estimated cuts to Wisconsin are over $3.7 billion. Over the eight years from 2011 to 2021, the estimated cuts to Wisconsin are over $3.7 billion.

When we see the wind blowing and the water rising on television, there’s some comfort in knowing that local governments will be able to aid victims in their own communities. But if the changes included in the House Budget go into effect, that may not be true in the future.

Tamarine Cornelius

 

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