Wednesday, 14 February 2018 15:38

Trump budget proposal would hurt Maine's poor Featured

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BANGOR - The $4.4 trillion dollar budget President Trump sent congress earlier this week makes massive cuts in domestic programs.

Those cuts include elimination of heating fuel assistance and federal funding for legal services for the neediest Americans.

 

What would these cuts mean for Maine's poor?

 

Previous presidents have proposed drastic cuts to programs aimed at helping people living below the poverty line.

 

Penquis Community Action Program based in Bangor provides heating fuel assistance for nearly 20,000 people in Penobscot, Piscataquis and Knox counties. "A lot of elderly people apply for this program. And they already keep their thermostat down low so they can conserve the money they have," said Jennifer Giosia, director of the Penquis heating program..

 

Statewide about $34 million of federal money gets spent on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. With about $5 million dollars of that money going to Penquis clients. This year, there is concern the money might not be there in the future. "This is a lifesaver for people. You can't go without heat in the state of Maine," said Giosia during a Wednesday morning interview.

 

Pine Tree Legal  Assistance provided help to nearly 20,000 people in 2017. Federal funding, according to Pine Tree's executive director, accounts for 50 percent of its general fund or $1.4 million dollars. If it's cut, "It's going to impact our ability to serve counties, the most rural counties in Maine," said Nan Heald, executive director of Pine Tree Legal Assistance..

 

Even if the funding for legal services is cut by just 10 or 20 percent it will make a difference. "It's not something we can absorb. And will mean we'll have to look at reduced services," she said.

 

While it's true President Trump's budget will eliminate many services for low-income people, if history is any indication by the time this budget gets through the congress it won't look at all like the one President Trump introduced earlier this week.

TJ Tremble

Reporter
[email protected]

T.J. Tremble joined WVII ABC 7 and WFVX FOX 22 in March 2016.

He was raised in Bangor, attended Bangor schools and graduated from John Bapst High School. He attended the University of Maine, studying political science.

He started his news career at the Camden Herald, many years ago. He also worked for the Bangor Daily News in Rockland, Belfast and Bangor.

He entered broadcast journalism as news director for WQCB-FM, Brewer. For Many years he worked behind the scenes in radio and television.

Recently, he worked as a news reporter for Zone Radio Corporation in Bangor [WZON-AM, WKIT-FM and WZLO-FM.

He has received reporting awards from the Maine Press Association, Maine Association of Broadcasters and the Maine Associated Press Broadcasters Association.

He is married, with three adult children and two grandchildren.