5 ways Trump’s budget could pinch Alaska

The President budget proposal is only one step in a long process. Many propositions might not even be implemented. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)
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.

Copies of US President Donald Trump’s Fiscal Year 2019 Government Budget sit on a table at the House Budget Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump wants to trim Native American housing grants. The changes would mean a loss of about $15 million for Alaska construction projects.

Water projects funding in jeopardy

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.

Congress has a say

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.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: North American Arctic is failing compared to Russia, Nordics, warns think tank,  Eye on the Arctic

Greenland: What the EU seal ban has meant for Inuit communities in the Arctic, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Could we eventually see an Arctic Free Trade Zone?, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Building new state governance in Russian Arctic, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Northern Swedish city gets Europe’s largest battery factory, Radio Sweden

United States: Trump infrastructure plan gets mixed reviews in Alaska, Alaska Public Media

Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media

For more news from Alaska visit Alaska Public Media.

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