O’Halleran concerned about rural programs on the Trump administration's chopping block
SNOWFLAKE — “I have two pages of programs for rural America that are going to be cut,” said Congressman Tom O’Halleran in an address to area officials attending the 2018 Northeastern Arizona Economic Development Summit in Snowflake last week.
O’Halleran, a representative of District 1 in Arizona, feels that the budget recently proposed by the Trump Administration “...would hurt rural communities, veterans and seniors.” “I think that major corporations are going to make out great. But, we know that most jobs comes from small business — especially in rural America,” he added.
Rural programs that O’Halleran says are on the chopping block based on the newest budget proposal include the following: The Economic Development Administration, The Rural Business and Cooperative Service, The Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Community Development Block Grants, Rural Water and Wastewater Grants, Indian Community Development Block Grant, Rural Economic Development Program, Essential Air Service, reimbursement for rural health care providers, Native American Housing Block Grants, Medicare and Medicaid and Veterans programs and services. The Congressman stressed the need to “...expand the $50 billion Infrastructure Bill to create more funds because rural Arizona just isn’t going to get done what we need to get done. Rural America needs to have a voice and we need to start applying the pressure now.”
“The $1.5 trillion budget is not realistic. It’s a hope and a prayer. (There is) $50 billion dedicated to rural America, but it’s offset by investments from the counties and other parts of the state,” he added.
An example that he used to help explain his point included how money is budgeted and spent for Interstate Highway projects. “If we build a highway between Chicago and California, then those metro cities at each end should help pay for the highway. It’s not right to let every rural county in-between foot the bill. That just doesn’t make sense.”
“This new budget could put $400 billion dollars of additional debt on the American people,” he said. “If Arizona is going to be competitive nationally and internationally, then we need to step up our game.”
He touched on a few other issues including bill HR 2862, Wildfire Disaster, which deals specifically with forest fires and is one of the most broadly supported bills.
“The difficulty with some of these bills is that we can’t open them up to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) because then the bill becomes open to so many other agencies, ultimately making it difficult to get passed,” he said.