President Trump’s 2019 budget would cut a lot of line-items that benefit Alaska. It’s more of a statement of values than a spending plan, since Congress ultimately decides. But here are five programs the administration wants to cut that might pinch in Alaska.
- The budget proposes to eliminate the Denali Commission. That’s an independent agency that awards federal grants for infrastructure projects in rural Alaska. President Trump would reduce the funding from $17 million to $7 million, just enough to allow for an orderly shutdown. The administration says the commission is hard to justify in a state that can afford to dole out dividends to each of its citizens. The budget would also cut two other regional commissions in the Lower 48.
- Trump wants to trim Native American housing grants. The changes would mean a loss of about $15 million for Alaska construction projects.
- The White House would cut a USDA grant program that has sent millions to Alaska each year to fund water and wastewater projects in rural Alaska, where some 3,000 homes lack running water and flush toilets.
- The budget would reform Essential Air Service to save $57 million. It’s not clear whether Alaska’s share of the pot would grow or shrink under this reform. Essential Air Service now pays air carriers $22 million to subsidize passenger service to 61 Alaska communities.
- The administration wants to eliminate funding for LIHEAP – That’s the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program – and also end Weatherization Assistance Program. Together, the two sent nearly $19 million to Alaska last year.
If these proposed cuts alarm you, Sen. Lisa Murkowski suggests you remain calm, because the president’s budget is just one step in a long process. The Trump administration tried to make cuts like these last year. But instead of eliminating the Denali Commission, for instance, Congress decided to increase its funding some 13 percent.