MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Gov. Mark Dayton wrote a letter Monday to Minnesota’s Congressional Delegation, asking them to oppose President Donald Trump’s budget.
The budget calls for sharp cuts and even the elimination of programs that the governor says help hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans.
Dayton says one example is the elimination of the low-income assistance heating program that in 2016 provided $114 million to more than 333,000 Minnesotans.
Some of the deepest cuts are to agricultural and other programs that affect rural areas. Many of those communities in Minnesota – and across the country — overwhelmingly supported Trump in the election.
The Community Action Agency in Shakopee is one of 24 around the state that serves more than a half million low-income Minnesotans.
The agencies rely on $7 million a year in federal Community Service Block grants, which Trump’s budget would eliminate.
Community Action Agency official Joe Vaughan says it’s not clear how the program could survive without the grants.
“It’d be devastating,” he said. “The dollars in the community service block grants are tied to every single household we serve.”
Among those getting help in Shakopee are a couple who is expecting their first child in a few days. For them, the agency is a lifeline allowing them to apply for several assistance programs and pick up baby items at the agency’s thrift store.
“This is for that last resort,” expecting mother Gerald Crest said. “I feel a little ashamed to have to come here, but it’s here to help.”
The president’s budget also slashes the Department of Agriculture by 21 percent, which Dayton warns would result in cuts in subsidies to Minnesota farmers as well as to agricultural programs and research.
The budget looks to be a tough sell in Congress.
“It’s going to be one of the questions in Congress on whether Republicans will be willing to follow President Trump’s outline of this budget, which will be very painful here in Minnesota and rural areas,” said Humphrey Institute professor Larry Jacobs.
WCCO reached out to a number of lawmakers in the Minnesota Delegation.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, said the president’s budget would hurt, not help Minnesota farmers and families.
Rep. Tom Emmer, a Republican, said he had some concerns about the president’s budget, which he called “preliminary.” However, he said he shares the president’s “resolve to address wasteful and excessive spending.”