March 20, 2017

ICYMI: President Trump’s Budget Proposal Called a “Stab in the Back” for New Hampshire’s North Country

ICYMI: President Trump’s Budget Proposal Called a “Stab in the Back” for New Hampshire’s North Country


WASHINGTON – Last week, the Berlin Daily Sun and Union Leader underscored the harmful impact President Trump’s budget proposal would have on the health, well-being, and economic stability of New Hampshire’s North Country.


President Trump’s budget proposal includes the elimination of the Northern Border Regional Commission, which has invested millions of dollars to help spur economic and community development in northern New Hampshire, as well as provided funding to increase access to substance misuse services.


The President’s budget proposal also includes the elimination of Community Development Block Grants, Low Income Home Energy Assistance, and Weatherization, which are critical programs that have assisted thousands of low-income and older citizens in the North Country.


Last week, Senator Hassan voiced her concerns over President Trump’s budget proposal and the impact it would have on economic development, job creation, and efforts to combat substance misuse in the North Country.


See below for highlights:


Berlin Daily Sun:


Some of the most popular federal programs in Coos County, ranging from economic development and housing grants to fuel assistance and Meals on Wheels, are eliminated or reduced under the preliminary budget released this week by President Donald Trump.


“President Trump campaigned on the promise that he would look out for those in rural, economically-disadvantaged areas like the North Country, but instead, his budget proposal stabs them in the back,” said North County State Senator Jeff Woodburn.


The state’s Congressional delegation said the list of programs eliminated in Trump’s budget includes Community Development Block Grants, Low Income Home Energy Assistance, Weatherization, as well as the Northern Borders Regional Commission. Funding for Meals on Wheels would be cut.

Last fiscal year, over 6,000 households in Coos County and northern Grafton and Carroll Counties, received fuel assistance through the program managed by Tri-County Community Action Program. The assistance helped 12,676 low income and elderly individuals heat their homes during the winter. The money goes directly to the fuel supplier on behalf of the recipient.


.. The budget also eliminates Community Development Block Grants, which provides communities and counties with grants for economic development and housing projects. 

The budget proposal also eliminates funding for the Northern Borders Regional Commission, which was set up to invest in economic and infrastructure projects in northern New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, and New York. From 2010-2015, the commission invested $3.3 million in New Hampshire projects.


The commission awarded the town of Northumberland $200,000 to bringing water and sewer to the former Groveton mill site, helping to attract NSA Industries to expand there with plans for 70 jobs. Northern Borders also supplied approximately $160,000 to allow WREN to purchase a Main Street building in Berlin for a training center and maker space. In the recent round of funding, the city received $250,000 for its river walk project. Other Northern Borders grants have helped expand cell service and broadband availability and assist in tourism efforts. 


U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan vowed she will fight to ensure the cuts never happen.

“President Trump’s budget puts corporate special interests ahead of critical economic priorities for New Hampshire, including drastically cutting economic development efforts to bring new jobs to the North Country,” Hassan said.


Union Leader:


President Donald Trump's budget outline last week put many popular federal spending programs affecting New Hampshire on the chopping block, and among the most vulnerable may be one that promotes trade, tourism and job creation in the Granite State's northernmost regions.


… Trump's budget eliminates 62 programs and agencies, many that have offered federal support for decades. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program is surely the most visible one in New Hampshire since it has supplied $25 million to help nearly 28,000 citizens in the previous year.

But there's also the Community Development Block Grant program, or CDBG, that in 2014 gave the state $8.7 million for a variety of programs from upgrading sidewalks and child care centers to supplemental support for Meals on Wheels for senior citizens.


In Manchester alone, those grants in 2015 supported 13 different areas from tree planting and municipal infrastructure to fighting crime and treating abused and neglected children.


Mayor Ted Gatsas noted in his proposed budget last month that community block grants, if they remain, would support the Boys & Girls Club, City Year, Meals on Wheels program, the Girls at Work "Build Me Up" program, the Granite United Way BRING IT program and the Queen City Bike Collective.


… there's also the Northern Border Regional Commission and two others like it created by Congress for the federal government to be a partner with states, towns and private investors to bring jobs and tourists to economically-disadvantaged parts of the country.


… Over the past two years, the commission has backed two business incubators, the Enterprise Center in Plymouth and the Dartmouth Regional Technology Center in Lebanon.


Chris Wellington, chief executive officer of the Grafton Regional Development Corp., said the Plymouth project would never have gotten off the ground in 2013 without the commission and in 2015 it supported 41 full-time and 15 part-time jobs at 12 businesses.

A $45,000 grant for the Dartmouth-linked incubator helped connect two buildings and convince one company, Avitide, not to leave but to remain in the region and to expand.

"This funding as menial as it sounds makes a huge impact," Wellington said. "One of the great things about this program is its flexibility, we can accept the grant and then go after the rest of the match and not have to have it all up front."


The state's all-Democratic congressional delegation vows it will do all it can to preserve this program which has faced elimination in years past from the Republican-led US House of Representatives.