Cong. William Keating, whose district includes Martha’s Vineyard, delivered a sharp rebuke to President Trump’s $1.1 trillion budget blueprint sent to Congress Thursday, which would eliminate Community Development Block Grants.
The budget proposal envisions deep cuts in programs for the environment, foreign diplomacy, housing, health services and the arts, while increasing military spending next year by $54 billion.
“If you’re looking at this as a blueprint right now, it’s economically harmful and shortsighted,” Mr. Keating said during a conference call on Thursday with reporters. “It’s going to cost us more money than it saves. Many of these things are going to put enormous burdens on states.”
The elimination of Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), would have a direct impact on Martha’s Vineyard.
For the past 19 years, Island towns have received grants ranging from $765,000 to more than $1 million per year to subsidise urgent home repairs for low and moderate income Islanders, as well as supplement day care expenses for young families, according to Alice Boyd, who is the grant administrator. Since 1998, 320 homeowners have received energy efficient home repairs in the form of forgivable loans of up to $35,000, while more than 70 children have received subsidized day care service so their parents can work full time.
Ms. Boyd said she submitted grant applications for Island towns last week, and one hour later, she was asked by state officials to compile as much information about how the program has helped Islanders as she could, in order to make a case to Congress.
“We will continue to fight this,” Ms. Boyd said. “We went through this twice in the (George W.) Bush era, and both times CDBG funds were reinstated. It’s a very uncertain time.”
The current year of grant funding will continue until Dec. 31, but Ms. Boyd said if the CDBG program ends, there are no other grant programs to fill the void.
“No, this is it,” she said. “There’s no other funding source that will replace these funds. It’s a lot of money. I don’t see the state picking this up.”
Mr. Keating expects strong resistance from local officials to efforts to eliminate the block grant program.
“If the philosophy is to push decision making to a more local level, it doesn’t seem to make any sense to eliminate the entire CDBG program,” Mr. Keating said. “I think you’re going to get a lot of push back.”