Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner says President Trump’s proposed cuts to federal aid to cities would gut economic development and affordable housing in a city that’s the center of the area’s economy.
"If you take away all of the resources, you can't turn to us and say 'what are you doing about the burgeoning homeless population?'”
Trump's budget blueprint would eliminate the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant program that cities have relied on since 1974. Syracuse is on the verge of applying for its latest round of funds totaling $4.4 million, which is not threatened. Miner says there have been tangible results.
"For us, it's not numbers. These are people. These are services," Miner said. "I can bring you to neighborhoods to show you before and after of housing projects that we've done. I can talk to you about families who were living in cars who are now living in homes, whose children are going to school, who are getting health care through Obamacare. And, people who are working two and three jobs who now have some stability in their lives because of these programs we are able to provide."
But, unless Congress restores the funding, Miner says the city’s already high poverty rate will get even worse.
"When sales tax is down, when the federal government cuts all funding to cities, when the state government doesn't give any revenue to cities, you can't turn to them and ask 'what are you going to do?'" Miner said. "We are bearing the burden of all of these responsibilities. We're the ones providing the services. We're the ones making sure the economy works, the community works."
Senator Chuck Schumer also sounded off on the budget cuts at a stop in the Albany area. He calls the CDBG funds the life blood for locally driven projects the spur investment. He says he’ll fight Trump’s cuts and ensure Syracuse gets the funding it deserves. Overall, he calls the budget “out of whack.”
"It kills the middle class. It cuts education funding," Schumer said. "It cuts transportation and infrastructure funding. It cuts money for scientific research. Even Republicans, Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the senior most powerful Republicans, saw the president's budget and said it's dead on arrival.”
Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo says Trump’s proposal lacks the most basic American values of compassion and care and is urging Congress to reject it out of hand.