Summer 2003

Rep. Nydia Velázquez--Congressional Support for Community Technology
by anonymous

Rep. Nydia Velázquez

Rep. Nydia Velázquez

Though gaining support for community technology amid steep budget cuts in the current Congress has been a challenge, CTCNet has found champions in Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) and Rep. John B. Larson (D-CT), among others. Rep. Velázquez and Rep. Larson coordinated sign-on letters this May to the Appropriations Committees of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education and the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary in support of increased funding for the Community Technology Centers (CTC) initiative and the Technology Opportunities Program (TOP), both of which are once again slated for elimination in the Administration's FY 2004 proposed budget. These letters have been signed by 48 Congressional Democrats.

We recently spoke with Rep. Velázquez to learn more about this exciting initiative.

CTR: Why did you draft these letters?
Rep. Velázquez:Even though technology literacy has become a basic life skill that is vital to educational, economic, social, and civic achievement, the Bush administration is seeking to eliminate federal programs, like TOP and CTC, which aim to build these skills, especially in underserved populations. I didn't want this to happen, so I drafted these letters to ensure that funding for TOP and CTC is restored.

CTR: Why invest in TOP and CTC during a tight budget year?
Rep. Velázquez:Now is exactly the time we should be investing in these programs. Both programs require such a small investment up-front, and they yield a big return in the future. TOP and CTC are critical to community development and are an important contributing factor to our nation's economic prosperity. But these programs, along with others focusing on health care, housing, education, and small business, are being cut in favor of tax cuts for big business and the wealthiest Americans.

CTR: What was the reaction of colleagues when asked for signatures?
Rep. Velázquez: Given that these programs serve people in communities across the nation, there was widespread support among my colleagues for this letter. Members of Congress who signed our letter represent both rural and urban districts and serve a diverse constituency, including seniors and minorities. We succeeded in getting TOP and CTC funded last year, despite the fact that the President tried to eliminate them, and we are confident that we will succeed again this year.

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