Nonprofits plan for potentially deep cuts
The Hawaii Community Foundation today will bring together more than 200 island nonprofit organizations to prepare for potentially devastating cuts in federal funding under the Trump administration.
“These are not budget cuts as usual,” said Nick Johnson, senior vice president for state fiscal policy for the Washington, D.C.based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, who will outline the ramifications on Hawaii nonprofits at the daylong gathering at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. “The last eight months (of the Trump administration) have really been a wake-up call. These are deep structural changes that are being proposed at the federal level that would in fact send shock waves through the ability of nonprofits and states and communities to provide crucial services in health care, education and human services — the things that nonprofits play a big role in providing.”
THE Hawaii Community Foundation has been helping island nonprofit organizations for more than a century and today is particularly worried that the 2018 fiscal year could see cuts to federal programs that are crucial to Hawaii, including:
>> Medicaid, which currently funds health insurance for 300,000 Hawaii residents. Some 35 percent of Medicaid recipients are children, and 20 percent are seniors and people with disabilities, according to the Hawaii Community Foundation.
>> Federal rental assistance, which provided $233 million last year to more than 20,000 low-income Hawaii households.
>> Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helped 1 in 8 island residents get food in fiscal year 2016. Among the thousands of people receiving SNAP benefits are 3,100 educators and 5,300 health care workers, according to the Hawaii Community Foundation.
“The Trump administration has proposed to take that program, which is now 100 percent federally funded, and make it a program where states would have to kick in 25 percent of the cost — a cost shift of $100 million a year to Hawaii,” the Hawaii Community Foundation told
the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
“That’s a $100 million-plus hit on the state budget,” Johnson said. “Or it means cutting benefits or throwing people off of the program.”
Hawaii’s geographic isolation makes it harder for nonprofit organizations to raise funds to make up the difference in federal cuts, said Micah Kane, the Hawaii Community Foundation’s president and CEO.
“Philanthropy will not fill the gap,” he said.
Communities on the mainland, Kane said, “can lean on each other. We lean on somebody, we fall in the water. So we’ve got to lean in” — borrowing a phrase coined by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg to empower women in the workplace.
At the start of today’s conference — entitled “Advancing Nonprofit Excellence” — Kane is scheduled to announce plans to create a nonpartisan Hawaii State Budget and Policy Center at the Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice to provide lawmakers, nonprofit organizations and others with objective data to help guide policy decisions.
It will be the 43rd such center around the country helped by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Kane said, and will be funded, in part, by the Castle Foundation.
By the end of today’s conference, Kane hopes that Hawaii nonprofit groups will speak with “one voice” and will be joined by island lawmakers at all levels to oppose cuts to federal programs.
“We definitely hope there will be a commitment to one voice,” Kane said, “and a commitment to serving a community in need.”