House Dems Fight to Preserve Services for Nations, Tribes and Pueblos
Under Threat by Federal Budget, House Dems Are Fighting to Maintain Services for Kids, Seniors and Most Vulnerable
Gallup N.M. – This week, the legislative Interim Indian Affairs Committee (IAC) has been meeting in the heart of Indian country, listening to presentations and testimony from tribal leaders and community members alike about the myriad of challenges facing the 22 Pueblos and Tribes of New Mexico. Of biggest concern to House Democrats are the cuts in services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) being proposed in President Trump’s 2018 budget. The proposed cuts would dramatically impact an already underfunded and strained system, potentially forcing parents, seniors and the most vulnerable to seek services from state government to help fill the gaps.
“We are deeply concerned that the proposed federal budget hurts tribal and pueblo communities,” stated Representative D. Wonda Johnson (D-Crownpoint). “The proposed cuts to essential programs and services that educate our children and care for our seniors will have a detrimental impact on New Mexico’s Native communities at a time when state resources are already stretched past their limit.”
“It’s critically important that we are having these discussions today, in the heart of Indian country, about how to address these proposed cuts in essential services,” said Representative Eliseo Alcon (D-Milan). “It is my hope that everyone who has a stake in the health and vitality of our Native communities works together to voice their concerns and advocate for the resources we need to help our families and communities thrive.”
“This committee will remain vigilant as the budget for Indian services is debated,” stated IAC co-chair Representative Georgene Louis. “It is vital that our Native partners have a direct channel to state policy makers and as co-chair I intend to make this committee as responsive as it can be to addressing their needs.”
Under Pres. Trump’s budget, funding for the BIA will be slashed by $181 million in FY18. The Bureau of Indian Education, which operates 44 schools throughout New Mexico in and around tribal and pueblo lands, would suffer a reduction of $64 million. Indian Health Services would see a decrease of $59 million for the construction, maintenance, and purchasing of new medical equipment and facilities. Meanwhile, funding for programs that help families secure housing loans will be eliminated entirely.
The Interim Indian Affairs Committee is co-chaired by Representative Georgene Louis (D-Albuquerque). Other House Democrats also in attendance during this week’s IAC meeting were, Representatives Patty Lundstrom (D-Gallup), Derrick J. Lente (D-Sandia Pueblo), Harry Garcia (D-Grants), Debbie Rodella (D-Española), Debbie Sariñana (D-Albuquerque), Liz Thomson (D-Albuquerque), and Patricia Roybal Caballero (D-Albuquerque). The Interim Indian Affairs Committee will continue to meet on this and other issues throughout the week, with a scheduled meeting taking place at the University of New Mexico’s campus in Gallup on Wednesday, July 26th. The agenda can be viewed here.