CU Times Washington Reporter
WASHINGTON -- Credit union executives lobby on Capitol Hill almost every day, usually about matters that directly impact the operation of their credit unions. Julie Clover's recent sojourn to Washington, D.C., was a bit different.
Clover, the membership development officer of Community Educators Credit Union in Rockledge, Fla., and Vice President of Marketing Sara Stern were part of a 150-person delegation from 28 states that spent two days in mid-May buttonholing lawmakers and their staffs to increase funding for NASA.
Community Educators also paid for University of Central Florida graduate student Jason Dunn to make the trip. Dunn, who is studying aeronautical engineering, spoke to lawmakers about the importance of NASA to the country and region.
"The people we talked to were receptive to our concerns,'' Clover said. "We focused on the overall importance of NASA and also talked about its local impact.''
Clover's credit union--which is located about 15 miles west of Cape Canaveral--was the only one represented at the Washington meeting, but she plans to enlist other ones in her area and the other 27 states represented to redouble lobbying efforts and exchange ideas about how to help members who face job losses caused by changes at NASA.
During their visit, which was coordinated by chambers of commerce in areas with a heavy NASA presence, members of the delegation broke off into smaller groups to meet with representatives from 74 Senate offices and 330 House offices.
Their goal is to increase the percentage of the federal budget spent on NASA from 0.68% to 1%. The additional funds would help speed up the implementation of the crew-exploration vehicle, currently scheduled to begin use in 2015, to replace the shuttle, which is scheduled to go out of service in 2010. If NASA were to begin that process earlier, it would enable the United States to rely less on foreign countries to transport personnel to the international space station and could create additional jobs.
The transformation to the new crew exploration vehicle will result in a loss of approximately 3,500 jobs at NASA and its contractors in Brevard County.
Community Educators is already working to help some of those who would be affected.
Clover and her colleagues at the 33,000-member credit union, have worked the Brevard Workforce Development Board, a local agency that coordinates training efforts, and giving seminars to employees of firms that could be impacted by NASA's funding issues on financial planning and financial literacy. The seminars have covered topics such as Money Management and Living Within Your Means.
Also, Clover has been highlighting Community Educators' programs to reduce the interest rates on people's car loans. Anyone who transfers their car loan from another financial institution, automatically gets at least gets a quarter-point rate cut and a $100 bonus.