Walker says he’ll lobby to keep community grant funding in federal budget

CDBG program slated for elimination by Trump

Gov. Scott Walker says he’ll lobby Congress to keep funding for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) in the federal budget.

The program, which provides funding to state and local governments to distribute to nonprofit projects, was slated to be eliminated under a budget proposal introduced by the Trump administration last week.

The governor told reporters in Beloit after an event Monday that the funding was doing important work in Wisconsin, including urban and rural economic development initiatives.

“We want to show the work we’ve done here is relevant to the House and the Senate as well in terms of really putting people to work — not just creating jobs, but helping people get the skill sets they need to take on employment,” Walker said.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said last week that the CDBG program was slated for elimination because the programs “were just not showing any results.”

Walker said he disagrees with that statement.

“I think here in Wisconsin we’ve done an effective job,” Walker said. “There might be examples where they haven’t in other places across the country, but we do our due diligence, particularly with the state funds we release at the local level.”

Many local nonprofits, including Porchlight Inc., which serves the homeless, as well as local governments in Wisconsin have expressed concern about the cuts, saying they could affect services for many at-risk people in the community.

Walker also said he was encouraged by changes that are being discussed to the American Health Care Act, the Republican proposal to replace Obamacare.

The governor said he had spoken to U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on Friday about the high costs reported under the new plan for senior citizens, an issue Ryan said he was looking at addressing.

“We’ve been lobbying not only about the amount of the tax credits for the higher costs in 50 and 60 and up,” Walker said.

“For those high-cost individuals based on income and age making sure they can adequately buy into a system that allows them access to affordable health care in this state, I think that’s been an important improvement.”

The Wisconsin governor also said he still has concerns about how Medicaid funding will be allocated, whether via a block grant or with per-capita funding caps. He said he’s been following the specific allocation for the elderly, the blind and the disabled, saying he’s most concerned about retaining funding for those who need to live in high-skilled nursing-type facilities.

“We wanted to make sure there was adequate funding in the budget for that,” Walker said. “Assuming that amendment is approved as being proposed, I think that will adequately ensure we’re able to do that in the state of Wisconsin.”

Disabled groups are planning an advocacy day at the capitol on Tuesday to discuss how changes in Medicaid funding could affect people across the state.