Advocates say proposed federal budget will hurt low income Vermonters

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(Host) A coalition of activists and politicians says President Bush’s proposed budget will cut essential services for many Vermonters.

Hal Cohen is the executive director of the Central Vermont Community Action Council. He says a proposal to end a particular block grant program could jeopardize the work of all the regional councils around the state. They collectively get $3 million and that leverages $27 million in social services.

(Cohen) “If the community services block grant is eliminated, the safety net for Vermonters who fall on bad times will be shredded, as well as the services for low-income Vermonters to help them become more self-sufficient, to help them to move out of poverty.”

(Host) Democratic lawmakers also lined up to criticize the Bush administration’s proposal. Windsor Senator Peter Welch, the Senate president, said that the lean budget together with federal tax cuts will eviscerate many important programs:

(Welch) “What has happened in Washington is not just that fiscal policy has been hijacked to provide tax cuts as payoffs to political supporters of an elite but small group of wealthy republican donors. Fiscal policy has become a tool to hollow out the capacity of our government – our government – to help our citizens.”

(Host) Governor Douglas considers President Bush his friend and recently spent two nights in the White House. But Douglas has also criticized many of the budget cuts, saying they would pose a tremendous burden on Vermont.

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