On Wednesday morning, representatives from various Community Based Organizations (CBOs) from all over Miami gathered before the Miami-Dade County Finance Committee to make a case against impending funding cuts. In accordance with Florida law, each representative was given a total of one minute to defend the value of their respective organizations and make a plea for continued funding. Though the many CBOs present were varied in their causes and missions, they were united in their message; the work that CBOs do is vital to creating a more equitable and thriving community and continued funding is essential to making their missions possible.
The various CBOs in attendance made their statements in response to a letter sent out on June 20th by Commissioner Dennis Moss in which he warned of coming budget cuts. In his letter, Moss suggests that the prevailing attitude towards CBOs is generally negative. He goes on to suggest that the supposed poor performance of some organizations “leaves the impression that the county is wasting money funding [these] groups,” thus making them more vulnerable to budget cuts. He concludes his letter by urging CBOs to attend Wednesday’s meeting in order to advocate for themselves and shift the tone of the conversation in their favor.
So now, in addition to the transformative and meaningful work that they do despite scarce funding and limited resources, these groups must come before a committee to defend the value of their work and essentially beg for continued funding. The many CBOs present at Wednesday’s meeting represented a large range of important and pressing causes, including poverty, accessible healthcare, education and elder care. One by one, the CBO representatives stood before Chairman Esteban Bovo, each making a rushed argument against the proposed budget cuts. The overarching message was clear: the committee should be very careful not to undervalue the work that these CBOs do. Though budget cuts may prove an unfortunate reality in this time of limited funding, our commissioners must make their difficult decisions with respect for the incredible work being done to better our community and an awareness of the impact that their actions will have on the citizens they were elected to represent. As one CBO representative notably pleaded, the committee must make these cuts with a scalpel, not a butcher knife.