Trump plan cuts funds for Appalachian agency that helps Eastern Kentucky

By Bill Estep

An agency that pumps millions of dollars each year into economic development in Eastern Kentucky and other Appalachian states would lose federal funding if President Donald Trump’s proposed budget prevails.

Trump would help pay for increased military spending and a U.S.-Mexico wall by eliminating money set aside for several independent agencies financed by the government, including the Appalachian Regional Commission.

The agency, which covers all or parts of 13 Appalachian states, has been a conduit for hundreds of millions in aid to Eastern Kentucky since it was founded in 1965, when poverty rates exceeded 50 percent in some counties and much of the region lacked adequate water, highways and health care.

The ARC has spent more than $23 billion in Appalachia since then on a wide range of programs and projects to tackle the region’s woes.

Between October 2015 and January 2017 alone, the ARC supported 63 projects in Kentucky totaling $31.9 million, the agency said Thursday. That spending, which has been matched by more than $65 million in other aid, is projected to create or retain more than 1,200 jobs and provide education or workforce training to more than 2,300 people in the state’s 54 ARC counties, the agency said.

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Posted: March 20, 2017