Commission Formally Asks Federal Leaders to Oppose Proposed Cuts
At Tuesday's Regular Session meeting of the Lawrence County Board of Commissioners, a resolution was unanimously approved that urges Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn and Senators, Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, to oppose recently proposed budget cuts that could adversely affect Lawrence County and its citizens.
According to one of the resolution's sponsors Commissioner Chris Jackson, the proposed cuts in President Trump's FY 2018 budget would hit communities like Lawrence County the hardest. "The proposed cuts would be devastating for traditionally low-income and rural areas like Lawrence County because a majority of the funding they are looking to cut overwhelming benefits communities like ours." Specifically, Jackson said that two federal programs that Lawrence County has relied on for years would be eliminated completely under the proposed budget.
The two programs are the Community Block Development Grant program and the Appalachian Regional Commission. Both programs assist economically distressed communities in important areas like infrastructure, education, economic development, and housing. According to Jackson, Lawrence County has received millions of dollars in funding through the years for from the programs for projects such as water line extensions, workforce training, home repairs and revitalization, Meals on Wheels programs as well as other community enhancements.
The resolution also notes that the Department of Education would be cut by 13.5%, meaning many programs that local students currently utilize could be eliminated or phased out. According to the resolution, total funding for public education would be cut while funding for charter schools would be increased by $1.4 billion, leaving many small and rural school districts like Lawrence County's at a disadvantage in terms of federal funding. Head Start, a program which benefits low-income children would also be cut under Trump's proposed budget.
According to the National Association of Counties (NaCo), the proposed cuts would "shift the responsibility to pay for key programs from the federal government to state and local governments." NaCo said the cuts are concerning considering many local governments are already strapped for cash and struggle to maintain a high level of services for their citizens. Paul Rosson who is the Executive Director of the South Central Human Resource Agency, an organization which administers many of the programs that would be affected by the cuts, said he is in full support of the resolution and plans to ask surrounding counties to join with Lawrence County in lobbying federal leaders to oppose the cuts. "The proposed cuts would be catastrophic to the thirteen counties our organization services, so I fully support and appreciate the Lawrence County Commission's opposition to these cuts," Rosson said.
"We are hopeful that our legislators will listen to small communities like ours across the nation and oppose these irresponsible cuts to programs that overwhelming benefit our citizens. A reduction in federal spending should be encouraged, but it shouldn't come on the backs of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society," Commissioner Jackson added.