Hispanic New Jersey Mayors Blast Trump Budget

Hispanic businesses abound on Bergenline Avenue, which crosses Union City, West New York, Guttenberg and North Bergen. (Photo by Gerardo Romo via El Diario)

The new budget for 2018, which President Donald Trump submitted to Congress, contains several cuts for social programs that have sounded the alarm among local mayors and some 300 municipalities across the nation.

Tom Cochran, United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) CEO and executive director, said that the new budget, called A New Foundation For American Greatness, will drastically affect local communities.

“Specifically, the Community Development Block Grant would be eliminated, a program that Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney characterized as one that does not work. Nothing could be further from truth. For the past 40 years, since its inception, this program has a proven track record of revitalizing neighborhoods and creating jobs,” said Cochran in a press release.

Local mayors reacted to the budget proposal saying that it would affect their communities.

West New York Mayor Félix Roque, of Cuban origin, said that the budget cuts will affect his town’s development.

“It does not look good. We in the cities pay federal taxes and it is not fair when funds are cut for programs that, for example, would affect our children’s recreation,” said Roque.

On the contrary, he added, the federal government must invest more in the cities’ development because its residents are ultimately those who contribute to the government.

Paterson Mayor José Torres, of Puerto Rican origin, argued that, since their creation in 1974, the subsidies now targeted for cuts have invested more than $149.2 billion in the local economies.

“Based on the proposed cuts, the city of Paterson will lose $7,659,759 annually, which will also impact more than 1,390 households per year,” said Mayor Torres in a written statement to Reporte Hispano.

“The budget cuts will mean a big economic loss for our city, and will negatively affect those programs that have greatly benefited us, such as public housing, Section 8 and others,” he said.

Passaic Mayor Héctor Lora, of Dominican origin, who was re-elected for four more years on May 2, worries that the cuts will affect programs for the elderly and children and youth recreation.

“Our programs for senior citizens and recreation will suffer a great impact,” said Mayor Lora.

Perth Amboy Mayor Wilda Díaz, of Puerto Rican origin, was not available for a reaction, but her office pointed out that she had previously expressed her opposition to the cuts in a public discussion.

The cuts fall directly on the office of Ben Carson, United States secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and would also affect the help that towns get to face natural disasters.

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