Nonprofit Advocacy Matters | October 25, 2010

October 25, 2010

Government Contracting News
  • It’s Never Been Just About Us: Nonprofit human service providers, colleges and universities, and local governments are all experiencing cash flow problems as a result of the budget crises in their states, according to “Behind the Bills,” a three-part series by Stateline, published by the Pew Center on the States. The series found that states delaying their payments amounts to a hidden form of borrowing, hurts the economy by causing layoffs, especially in the nonprofit sector, and occurs less as a deliberate budget strategy than a symptom of failure in the political process. Read the National Council comment to the series.
  • Fast Leverage: Following release of the two national reports on government-nonprofit contracting issued by the National Council and the Urban Institute, the North Carolina Budget & Tax Center took the research a step further in North Carolina by documenting that “State grants to nonprofits dropped by more than 25 percent in fiscal year (FY) 2009-10, a decrease that is about ten times larger than the drop in the total state budget in the same year.” 
  • Streamlining Contracting Processes Legislation: Two bills are pending in New Jersey to require state human service agencies to establish more uniform and streamlined contracting processes, centralized licensing procedures, auditing, and other improvements to the contracting process involving social service organizations.

Mutual Respect: The National Council’s Special Report: Costs, Complexification, and Crisis: Government’s Human Services Contracting "System" Hurts Everyone, showed respect for dedicated government employees who try to improve the contracting and grant processes for upholding the social safety net. The State of Connecticut likewise signaled its respect by posting a link to our web portal on nonprofits and government contracting on the State’s website

  • Tell Us Your Story: Have government contracting updates to share? Problems you’ve experienced or solutions that you see? Go here to share your story.

Taxes on the Ballot
Nearly 100 statewide ballot measures on taxing and spending will dominate the list of ballot initiatives next month, according to USA Today, using data from the anti-tax National Taxpayers Union. More than 450 local tax issues also will be considered in 33 states.  

Where the Candidates Stand
The Chronicle of Philanthropy sent surveys to all major-party candidates in the 37 states that are holding gubernatorial races this year, asking how their proposed policies and programs would affect nonprofits in their states. The Chronicle’s Campaign 2010 webpage posts responses from gubernatorial hopefuls in Colorado, Connecticut, Hawai’i, Idaho, Maine, Nebraska, and Vermont. Without naming names, here are some of the highlights on the hot topic of government contracts for services:

  • Nonprofits “need to be assured that the state is a good partner and will honor the stipulations set forth in our contracts.”
  • “For too long, state government has used cutbacks in social-service programs to balance the state budget…. It would be my intention to do more with nonprofits to help reduce the cost of providing services rather than cutting services.”
  • “If state government is going to rely on charitable, tax-exempt organizations to deliver services, it must be willing to invest in the capacity of those organizations. This can and should be accomplished in many different ways, including by providing ongoing, regularly scheduled workshops on things like proposal development, contracting, procurement, and board governance.”

NOW is the time for nonprofits to have the media in their states ask candidates where they stand on these important issues, because candidates will be more eager to listen and learn about the nonprofit sector’s issues now than after the election. Build in your accountability measures by getting candidates to take a stand.

Arts Funding Remains a Priority in New York City
New York City’s cultural capital budget will be $750 million for the next four years, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration announced last week. The money will go to 320 projects at 190 different organizations, and will range from installing air conditioning units to building a new wing of a museum. The previous four-year cultural capital budget of 2006 was a record $803 million, but supported only 170 projects.

Property Tax Exemption Challenged
Morristown, New Jersey is seeking more than $1 million in back taxes from a nonprofit hospital for leasing large portions of its tax-exempt facility to private, for-profit doctor offices. The hospital is challenging a court ruling in favor of the town, and the mayor has said “There is a lot more of the hospital that we believe that could be taxed.”

Litigation as Advocacy
The nonprofit Center for Responsible Lending has used litigation as a means of compelling attorneys general and mortgage regulators to investigate charges about questionable documentation used to rush families into foreclosure proceedings resulting in their evictions. CRL was a co-plaintiff in a Maine lawsuit against Ally Financial, owner of GMAC Mortgage, in which the mortgage giant was sanctioned for having filed false documents in the foreclosure actions that might have displaced thousands of Maine residents. The case highlighted an industry-wide problem and financial institutions halted foreclosures in all 50 states.