In Wait-And-See Mode, N.H. Agencies Contemplate Various Scenarios of Trump Budget
Although the federal budget is in its very early stages, President's Trump's proposal to severely cut funding for many federal agencies has several N.H. agencies contemplating a range of possibilities -- from best- to worst-case scenarios -- and gearing up to fight possible cuts to programs they deem essential.
"The President's budget is sort of the tip off of the game, getting the federal budget going. So it's at the early stages of the game and nothing is decided upon at this point. The outcome is still a long time to be determined," says Jim Martin, spokesperson for the N.H. Department of Environmental Services.
Martin says his department will be closely watching what happens over the next few months in Congress, which holds the power of the purse and will make the ultimate decision on whether Trump's deep cuts hold sway.
"We do receive roughly a third of our funding for D.E.S. from federal funds, and that money goes to support a variety of things we do here at the agency to help protect the environment and public health here in New Hampshire."
And Martin said cuts to that funding could have downstream effects: "It helps to support programmatic activities as well as to provide grant dollars that come here to D.E.S. but then are passed on to local cities and towns here in New Hampshire for a variety of purposes."
Dean Christon, executive director of the N.H. Housing Finance Authority, says he's concerned about a federally funded program called HOME, which helps pay for affordable workforce and senior housing, and would be eliminated under the Trump budget.
"Over the years we’ve used it to support literally thousands of units of affordable rental housing across the state and while no project relies completely on that money, it is important as a resource to plug holes, to fill gaps, to leverage lots of other money," Christon says.
Another program that helps low-income renters, known as Section 8, is apparently not on the chopping block -- though whether there’s enough money for the program is in question, Christon says.
Meanwhile, Congress will weigh the president’s requests in the months ahead and is likely to come up with a much different plan. Even Republicans on Capitol Hill have expressed deep reservations about aspects of Trump's budget proposal.
For a discussion on the President’s budget, how it would affect New Hampshire, and how the federal-budget process works, visit The Exchange.