The Delta Grassroots Caucus (DGC) is a broad coalition of grassroots leaders in the eight-state Delta region. DGC is also a founding partner of the Economic Equality Caucus,
which advocates for economic equality across the USA.


Posted on December 18, 2007 at 06:18 PM

The Delta Regional Authority actually won an increase in funding in the massive spending legislation unveiled in Washington, DC, and the Delta Grassroots Caucus praised this result as surprisingly positive in the climate of huge budget cuts for most domestic programs this year. The funding level in the energy and water appropriations section for DRA will remain almost the same at $11.685 million, and there was a $1 million increase in USDA Rural Development funding through DRA.

“This total of almost $12 million through energy and water is nearly double what the Bush administration requested, and the $1 million increase through USDA Rural Development is remarkable when most programs are facing the budget ax,” said Lee Powell, Delta Grassroots Caucus director. “We commend Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Sen. Mark Pryor, Rep. Mike Ross, Rep. Marion Berry of Arkansas (D-AR), and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi), and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Missouri) for gaining what was a remarkably positive outcome in the current austere budget climate.”

Desha County Judge Mark McElroy said “We were concerned that Congress might go all the way back to the much lower Bush administration budget request figure, so we really want to praise Sen. Lincoln, Rep. Ross, Rep. Berry and the rest of the Delta Congressional delegation for making sure that we escaped the budget cuts and even got a $1 million increase through the USDA Rural Development.”

Mayor Carl Redus of Pine Bluff said that “Every increase is a step forward for our region’s economic development, so we commend Sen. Lincoln, Rep. Ross and the entire Arkansas Congressional delegation for their hard work on this issue, and we look forward to expanding the DRA budget every year.”

Mayor Barrett Harrison of Blytheville said “Sen. Lincoln is always a great champion for the DRA, and we also appreciate the support of Congressman Ross and Sen. Pryor, and we commend Congressman Marion Berry for supporting the funding amount in the omnibus legislation.”

Powell said that “Congressman Berry was one of the founders of the DRA and has always said he supports the basic concept of the agency. The DRA has done a lot of good work in strategic planning and has greatly improved its communications and accountability since its early years.”

Judge McElroy said “We would like to congratulate Federal Co-Chair Pete Johnson and Alternate Federal Co-Chair Rex Nelson on a job well done. We know they have had a very tough time being a new agency charged with the huge task of fighting poverty in the Delta with a relatively small budget, and they have greatly improved their operations in their short history since being founded by a bipartisan group of Members of Congress in 2000.”

“The DRA is far better off today than it was in 2004, when the budget was only $5 million, so we appreciate the improvement, but it still needs to be a lot bigger than it is and ought to be at least at the $30 million level it was when President Bill Clinton signed it into the law with the vital leadership of Sen. Cochran, Sen. Lincoln, and the bipartisan group in Congress that founded the agency,” said McElroy.

The current energy and water funding level is $12 million, and it will stay almost the same at $11.685 million, while the $3 million level in this legislation through USDA Rural Development is an increase from this year’s level of $2 million.

The Delta Grassroots Caucus is a nongovernmental organization advocating for economic development in Arkansas and the other seven states of the Delta region from southern Illinois to New Orleans, Louisiana.