Trump’s budget would hit Massachusetts programs

Mar 21, 2017

As Reported by Gerry Tuoti, Wicked Local Newsbank Editor, Wicked Local Newburyport:

Social services providers, environmental advocates and others warn that Massachusetts would suffer dire effects under President Donald Trump’s budget proposal.

“For a President who talks about ‘America First,’ this budget puts Americans last,” U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-MA, who represents Newburyport in Congress, said in a scathing statement after the proposal was revealed last week. “During the campaign, Donald Trump promised to create good-paying jobs, invest in our infrastructure, and ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to thrive in the new economy. I have advocated for all those things myself—they are bipartisan priorities. Yet, President Trump’s budget makes no mention of jobs, infrastructure investment, or expanding economic opportunity for all Americans.”

Trump’s budget blueprint, which will likely be followed by a more detailed spending plan in May before Congress has the final say, calls for a $54 billion increase in military and defense spending, while cutting or eliminating scores of social services programs, medical research grants, environmental funding and arts and humanities grants.

“As presented (March 16), the presidential budget would be devastating to the social safety net across the country and of course in Massachusetts,” said Joe Diamond, executive director of the Massachusetts Association for Community Action.

The Massachusetts Association for Community Action, or MassCAP, is the statewide organization of the 23 community action agencies operating in Massachusetts. The agencies collectively serve 600,000 residents, providing programs including fuel assistance, adult education, workforce development, housing services, hunger relief and benefits assistance.

The agencies get more than 20 percent of their funding from federal anti-poverty Community Services Block Grants, which Trump has proposed eliminating entirely. Nationally, CSBG awards totaled $715 million this year, with approximately $16 million coming to Massachusetts.

The presidential budget proposal also calls for eliminating the Low-Income Heating Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, which provides financial assistance to help eligible families pay their winter heating bills. Massachusetts got more than $130 million in LIHEAP funds this year, helping approximately 170,000 households.

“Without fuel assistance, folks have to make terrible choices between eating, heat, medicine or even their rent,” Diamond said.

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