(ABC News) Rigel Preston is a former coal miner who lives in Kentucky who has learned how to code because of a job retraining program that is now slated to be cut.(NEW YORK) — The first budget proposal of President Donald Trump’s administration was released Thursday morning and people across the country are bracing for the prospect of having programs that impact their lives face elimination.
One such person who is may be affected is Rigel Preston, a former coal miner who lives in Paintsville, Kentucky, who benefited from a job retraining program funded by the Appalachian Regional Commission.
The budget released Thursday lists the Appalachian Regional Commission as one of 19 independent agencies whose funding would be eliminated.
Preston used to work in coal mines and now is in the internship portion of a training program named Interapt which teaches web coding.
“I don’t have to work in 20-degree weather to earn a decent paycheck anymore. I was a surface coal miner. I was exposed to the conditions all the time. Now I can make a comparable wage in a climate-controlled environment, so I’m all for this,” Preston told ABC News.
He added: “As a former Marine, I understand that the military needs more support. … But I don’t feel that ARC is one of the things that needs to be cut.”
“I would hope that they would reconsider cutting ARC [the Appalachian Regional Commission]. It’s been such a benefit to this area to have a different means of earning a decent wage without having to go away to another state. We can actually earn a decent wage now through these programs like this and still be home. So that’s a definite benefit,” he said.
Another program that is slated to be cut is the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which funds before- and after-school programs along with summer programs.
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney defended the proposed cuts of after-school programs at Thursday afternoon’s White House press briefing.
“Let’s talk about after-school programs generally, they’re supposed to be educational programs, right? I mean, that’s what they’re supposed to do; they’re supposed to help kids who don’t get fed at home get fed so they do better in school. Guess what? There’s no demonstrable evidence they’re actually doing that,” Mulvaney said.
“There’s no demonstrable evidence they’re actually helping results, helping kids do better in school — which is what, when we took your money from you, to say, ‘Look, the way we justified it was these programs are going to help these kids do better in school and get better jobs.’ And we can’t prove that that’s happening,” he said.
One parent who is upset is Rob Zurawa, a single parent of two in Pennsylvania. His children Connor, who is in third grade, and Leah, who is in second grade, attend the SHINE program, a local after-school program funded through 21st Century Community Learning Centers.
Zurawa disputes Mulvaney’s claims that after-school programs have been ineffective.
“They’ve improved in school work so much since they’ve been in the program. It’s unbelievable,” Zurawa told ABC News.
He said that they regularly work on “STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] activities, [and] all types of crafts.”
SHINE, which serves seven school districts, features programming 42 weeks a year, including summer home visits and 36 weeks of school-year STEM programming. The proposed budget would completely eliminate SHINE, which gets its funding entirely from 21st Century Community Learning Centers.
He fears that if the program gets cut, he will have to change jobs and his kids will have to go to day care after school.
“The construction company that I’m with, there’s no way that I could leave that early so I’d probably have to leave my job or change professions because of that,” he said.
He also has a message for President Trump. “It’d be great if Mr. Trump came over this way and [had] a visit with us. We could sit down and discuss it. That’d be great.”
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