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Penny Wise Campaign Launches to Protect our Community from County Budget Cuts [UPDATED]

Community organizations hold a press conference June 15th in response to the property appraiser’s estimate of a $420 million deficit in the county budget and the county manager’s call for a responsible budget


When: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 | 10:30am-10:55am


What:  A press conference with diverse organizations, research institutions and community advocates is being held in response to the Property Appraiser’s estimate of a $420 million deficit in the County’s budget due to a declining tax base. To deal with the shortfall, the county commission and mayor are considering making massive cuts to our jobs and basic services, which could threaten the well-being communities.

We will be delivering a giant petition and five foot penny to Mayor Alvarez’s office after the community discusses the devastating impact budget cuts will have to already diminished community services and rising unemployment. This event is the kickoff of the 2010 Penny Wise Campaign, whichrepresents the interests of over 300 organizations and thousands of individuals that will be affected by the budget cuts. 

Where:  Outside of the South Side of Government Center Metro Station at the Stephen P. Clark Building, 111 Northwest 1st Street, Miami, FL 33128-1931

Who: The Penny Wise Campaign, including the Human Services Coalition, Jobs With Justice, RISEP (Research Institute for Social and Economic Reform), Switchboard of Miami, Curly’s House of Style Inc./Hope Food Bank, and M.U.J.E.R. (Mujeres Unidas en Justicia, Educacion, y Reforma/ Women United in Justice, Education and Reform).


Why: We believe that cutting our county’s jobs and services will risk the health and safety of our communities. The goal of Penny Wise is to maintain the current FY 2009-10 funding levels for our county’s social services and jobs. In order to maintain funding, we believe the county must adjust the property tax rate to collect the same level of revenue as last year.


Domestic Violence programs, food banks, good county jobs, children’s services and more are all on the chopping block. We cannot afford to be penny wise and pound foolish; we must maintain full funding for our communities’ services by adjusting the property tax rate to the same level of revenue for the county as last year,” said Susan Rubio Rivera of M.U.J.E.R.  “Cutting these programs and jobs will increase unemployment and risk the safety and health of the communities we all want to be a part of.


Besides serving hundreds of thousands of clients per year in Miami-Dade, community service providers are important to the economy. Social assistance providers employ over 15,000 people in Miami-Dade County. County and nonprofit human services programs also bring in millions of dollars from matching grants and from federal- and state-funded programs such as Head Start.


Social service providers have already sustained significant cuts in the last few years. In FY 2004-05, the county allocated $51.354 for community-based organizations, and in FY 2009-10, it allocated $22.725 million, representing $28.629 million in cuts.


In Miami-Dade County Manager George Burgess’s recent speech to the Greater Miami Chamber Goals Conference, as excerpted in the Miami Herald,he noted that “when we make cuts to social programs that keep people out of jail and the poorhouse, we pay the price down the road…Our challenge today is to be the authors of our own greatest destiny.” Protecting our community from budget cuts ensures the health, safety and prosperity of our communities.


 Background on Penny Wise

Last year, the Penny Wise Campaign formed in response to Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez’s proposed budget, which eliminated funding for community-based organizations (CBO’s) that provide social services and art programs. Through the efforts of hundreds of organizations, we managed to maintain funding at 70% of the original level but still lost hundreds of good county jobs. This year, the county faces similar budget deficits.



Vanessa Woodard Byers for School Board



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