Vermont Business Magazine Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Thursday helped steer through a funding bill that rejects efforts by the Trump Administration to eliminate housing, transportation and infrastructure programs vital to communities across Vermont. The Committee Thursday approved the fiscal year 2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, which maintains level funding for the Essential Air Service, Home Investment Partnerships, NeighborWorks and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) programs – all programs the Trump Administration’s “unbalanced and misguided” budget, according to Leahy, would have eliminated.
Leahy said: “I’m glad Republicans and Democrats stood together and rejected the misguided and draconian cuts in the Trump budget. These are programs that support families buying their first home, redevelop our downtowns and connect our rural communities. They make possible Rutland’s airline connectivity. These are the programs we should be investing in. They improve the lives of Vermonters and communities across the country.”
The bill funds the CDBG Program at $3 billion, level funded from fiscal year 2017. Over the course of CDBG’s 43-year history, Vermont has received more than $400 million in CBG funds to invest in rural infrastructure needs, leveraging more than $4 billion in additional investments.
The bill funds the Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME) at $950 million, level funded from fiscal year 2017. The HOME program supports communities in rehabilitating and developing affordable housing for low income individuals.
Just last month, Leahy announced that Vermont will receive approximately $7 million in CDBG funds and $3.4 million in grants from the HOME program in 2017.
The bill funds TIGER Grants at $550 million, $50 million more than fiscal year 2017. TIGER Grants allow communities to rebuild their infrastructure in effective and smart ways. Vermont has received more than $30 million through the TIGER grant program; the most recent $10 million award will improve and upgrade the Western corridor rail line.
The bill funds the Essential Air Service (EAS) at $283.4 million, level funded from fiscal year 2017. The Essential Air Service program allows rural communities like Rutland to sustain regular air transportation services. The support provided by EAS to the Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport is a key component to economic development for Rutland County.
The Trump Administration’s unbalanced budget would have eliminated these vital programs. Leahy played a pivotal role in assuring that the Appropriations Committee — Republicans and Democrats — rejected these misguided and unbalanced cuts.
Source: Leahy 7.27.2017