Montana Politics

Rehberg Budget Targets AmeriCorps; Let Him Know He’s Wrong

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When Representative Rehberg issued his secretive draft for the Health and Human Services budget, he put the axe to a program that has served Montana and the nation for almost two decades, the AmeriCorps program.

Denny Rehberg - Caricature

It’s typically short-sighted thinking from the Representative. National service programs not only increase the odds that people will get their college degrees; they also help communities recover from national disasters, schools educate young children, and government provide services to those in need.

That well-known radical leftist John McCain offered one of the most cogent defense of AmeriCorps, when he wrote:

Since 1994, more than 200,000 Americans have served one-to-two-year stints in AmeriCorps, tutoring school children, building low-income housing, or helping flood-ravaged communities. AmeriCorps members receive a small stipend and $4,725 in college aid for their service. But the real draw is the chance to have an adventure and accomplish something important. And AmeriCorps’ achievements are indeed impressive: thousands of homes constructed; hundreds of thousands of senior citizens assisted to live independently in their own homes; millions of children taught, tutored, or mentored.

AmeriCorps is an unqualified success story, putting thousands of productive, hard-working volunteers in our communities in exchange for modest support for their education.

It’s also an example of a federal program that saves money. Research shows that every dollar spent on AmeriCorps returns $1.95 to communities, as Will Marshall and Marc Magee note:

In total, seven independent cost-benefit analyses of AmeriCorps have been conducted in its first decade, with most studies looking at two or three programs at a time. These studies have assessed a diverse sample of AmeriCorps programs, covering the full range of service areas, including literacy promotion, conservation, crime reduction, substance-abuse counseling, housing construction, and neighbor- Hood restoration. As can be seen in Figure 6, all seven studies found that AmeriCorps generates benefits in excess of its costs, with the benefit-cost ratios varying from a low of 1.23 to a high of 3.90, resulting in an average ratio of 1.95.

When Rehberg released his budget draft, he claimed “this bill is about investing in people and helping create the jobs they need to take care of their loved ones,” a position entirely at odds with cuts to a program that does all of those things—investing in people, creating jobs, and providing care.

Tell Representative Rehberg to restore funding for this vital program today.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it’s a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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