Last week, President Trump released his first federal budget draft to Congress, and it was full of proposals to slash and burn essential federal budget items across the country. From deep cuts to meals for impoverished elderly in Arizona, to a complete removal of cancer research funding in Washington state, Trump’s budget targets the most vulnerable people in America.
The budget for fiscal year 2016 proposed by President Obama included nearly $8 billion in essential funding for Alaska through contracts, grants, loans and other types of financial assistance. This is a stark contrast to Donald Trump, who proposes to cut almost all our existing federal funding. During this time of fiscal chaos on the state level, it is important that we fight to retain this federal investment for crucial programs in Alaska.
It is doubtful that Alaska’s federal delegation will stand up for us and against President Donald Trump, as they have signaled their blind allegiance to him through cabinet nominee confirmation votes and other public statements of loyalty to him and the GOP.
Alaska Democratic Party Chair, Casey Steinau, is particularly disturbed to hear about proposed cuts to our federal investment in areas of environmental and transportation programs. “Budgets are more than ink on a piece of paper - they outline priorities, and it is clear that Alaska is not a priority for Donald Trump. Knowing Trump’s proposed budget, it is baffling to me that Republican Senators Murkowski and Sullivan, and Republican Representative Young continue to support the leader of their Party. His proposed federal budget cuts will destroy our way of life in Alaska, particularly for Alaska Natives and others in rural areas.
“For starters, Trump plans to eliminate all funding for the Essential Air Service which subsidizes flights in and out of rural Alaska. Cuts to this program will isolate and abandon people who do not have the benefit of road access and are reliant on travel by small plane. It is unacceptable that this is even an idea that’s been floated by the Republican Party.
“Another devastating proposal would eliminate LIHEAP, a program that helps rural low-income families pay for high heating bills. Our federal delegation has failed to create infrastructure or jobs in these communities, so the people that live there are dependent on federal investment to help heat their homes. Without this help, elderly and children will freeze, with literally no other options to assist them.”
Alaska Democratic Party Executive Director Jay Parmley says, “Alaskans are terrified of Trump’s proposed budget. “Looking at all of the potentially devastating cuts, it’s tough to pinpoint which will be the worst for Alaskans. But the elimination of the water and wastewater loan program, which will cut almost $500 million in federal money to our villages across the state, will result in wide-scale health and safety dangers. Another huge problem would be cuts to the clean air grants, including $2.5 million in targeted funding for a Fairbanks program that reduces air pollution by paying people to swap out older wood stoves. Anyone that’s spent time in Fairbanks in the winter understands that it’s insane to cut this program now, when they need it most.”
“One thing is certain: Donald Trump has no idea of the challenges that we face in Alaska. By looking at the stark contrast between President Obama’s 2016 federal budget proposal and the budget proposed by President Trump, it is clear that the current Administration doesn’t think much of Alaska.”
We call on all Alaskans to reach out to Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senator Dan Sullivan and Representative Don Young, and urge that they fight for us and the essential federal investment that is threatened by President Trump.
For further comment please contact Katie Bruggeman at 907-570-4523.