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President's Budget Slashes Critical Assistance for Kentuckians

Food-assistance benefits could be cut by nearly 29 percent for Kentuckians under President Donald Trump's budget proposal. (Pixabay)
Food-assistance benefits could be cut by nearly 29 percent for Kentuckians under President Donald Trump's budget proposal. (Pixabay)
May 30, 2017

FRANKFORT, Ky. – President Donald Trump's proposed budget – according to many advocates for the poor – would make Americans weaker, sicker and hungrier.

The $4.1 trillion budget boosts military spending and doles out huge tax breaks, paid for by cuts to programs that millions of Americans rely on to survive.

The president's proposal calls for slashing the federal nutrition program by $192 billion over 10 years.

Ashley Spalding, a research and policy associate at the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, says the cuts would put more than 650,000 Kentuckians at risk of deep hunger.

"The proposal at hand is truly a cruel budget for our country, and it would impact our state in a devastating way,” she states. “Because we're a poor state and we have a lot of state budget troubles already, Kentucky's going to be especially hit hard, and in particular the more rural parts of our state."

Spalding says Kentucky's 5th congressional district has the sixth highest number of households receiving SNAP benefits among all congressional districts in the country.

The majority of SNAP participants are children, seniors or people living with disabilities.

The Trump administration says the cuts will be balanced by stricter work requirements and reduced fraud.

But Spalding says with persistent unemployment, the numbers just don't add up.

"How's a person going to meet work requirements when there just aren't the jobs?” she asks. “Most of the counties in our state have waivers. Now, under the president's proposal, that would go down to just 10 counties that qualify."

Spalding says the president's budget puts a number of other key federal programs that help low-income Kentuckians on the chopping block, including Medicaid, CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program), Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance.

"Plus non-defense discretionary programs,” she adds. “These are federal programs that provide grants to states to do things like provide food through Meals on Wheels, to supplement educational services that we provide. These are really critical sources of funding."

The budget proposes shifting 25 percent of the cost of SNAP to the states, which Spalding contends Kentucky could not afford.

And without full federal funding, she says the program would not be able to adequately respond to economic downturns.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - KY