AKRON, Ohio - Northeast Ohioans, angry over the federal budget, offered plenty of suggestions to Congress during a hearing Thursday at the Akron Public Library's main branch.
Aides to Sen. Sherrod Brown, Rep. Tim Ryan, and Rep. Betty Sutton listened and took notes as several local residents voiced their frustation.
Several people said that too much money is tied up in the military and social services to continue to pay the price through budget cuts.
"Demilitarize the budget. We cannot bring peace by subsidizing war," Rev. John Beaty, of Akron, said.
Akron resident Ruth Gibson drew applause from the crowd when she slowly and emphatically read from her statement.
"We need massive job creation by the government," Gibson said.
The hearing was organized by the Northeast Ohio American Friends Service Committee.
The Director of AFSC Greg Coleridge said the idea of the hearing was to give the public an opportunity to directly share their views and stories on federal spending and tax policies and to offer suggestions on which federal programs should receive more funding, which ones should be cut and how the budget should be balanced.
"They (Congress) only hear from paid lobbyists, who have a certain special interest to promote. They don't hear often enough from their constituents," Coleridge said.
Linda Valentine, the president and CEO of Mature Services, said the federal government slashed 45 percent of the funding for program that provides 20-hour-a-week jobs for senior citizens. It's called the Senior Community Service Employment Program.
"We're concerned in the 2012 budget that there are no further cuts," Valentine said. There is a freeze on hiring more seniors, and those currently in the program, had their weekly hours cut to 16.
That hurts people like 70-year-old Pat Bedell, who relies on the minimum wage job and Social Security to pay her bill.
"It's gonna make a big impact, that little bit of money. It doesn't sound like (that) to maybe people that make a lot of money, but to us, it's a big deal," Bedell said.
The federal budget is supposed to be balanced by Oct. 1. That didn't happen last year and nearly resulted in a government shutdown.
The 2011 budget was balanced after a tense legislative standoff that ended in a deal containing $38.5 billion in cuts. The projected deficit for 2011 is around $1.5 trillion.
AFSS is hoping to plan a similar hearing on the 2012 federal budget later this year in Cleveland.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Latest News Headlines
The ribbon cutting for the newest park in Parma, the West Creek Reservation, is Friday at 10:30 a.m. The project has been more than 10 years in the making.
James Gandolfini, whose portrayal of a brutal, emotionally delicate mob boss in HBO's "The Sopranos" helped create one of TV's greatest drama series and turned the mobster stereotype on its head, died Wednesday in Italy.