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FRIDAY, MAY 26, 2017

Trump's budget would end federal service programs

AMERICORPS WORKERS ON A PROJECT.  NYT PHOTOAMERICORPS WORKERS ON A PROJECT. NYT PHOTO


Breaking from longstanding tradition, President Donald Trump’s budget proposal, if enacted, would eliminate many service programs started under Presidents John F. Kennedy an Richard Nixon.

The programs include Corporation for National and Community Service, and with it, AmeriCorps, Senior Corps and Volunteers in Service to America, one of Kennedy’s first national service programs, reports Erica Green of The New York Times.

"He would zero out a popular loan-forgiveness program for graduates who choose public-service jobs [in rural areas], and he would cut the Peace Corps by 15 percent," Green reports. "The cuts would extend to other programs that encourage young Americans to teach in at-risk schools, become police officers or take careers in social work."

President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Congress created the Civilian Conservation Corps, which helped the country recover from the Great Depression, and each president since, regardless of political affiliation, has used service programs to encourage citizens to help tackle problems like poverty and housing and disaster relief. The programs also offer young people experience and create jobs. Kennedy founded the Peace Corps for service abroad, and VISTA for those wishing to serve at home.

Trump’s tax and spending blueprint for the next fiscal year, which begins in October, is a departure from a nearly century-old tradition of layering service programs on existing service programs. The proposed cut to the Peace Corps would be the largest the agency has seen in 40 years, according to National Peace Corps Association.

"The Trump administration has said the proposals are part of the larger effort to balance the nation’s budget, emphasize national security and spend taxpayer dollars on programs that are efficient and effective," Green notes, adding that the proposal is almost certain to face bipartisan opposition.

Written by Danielle Ray

Posted at 5/26/2017 11:09:00 AM

 

The Trump administration's proposed budget was slammed by leaders from states with large rural populations, who called agriculture cuts "a slap in the face" to rural voters who put Trump in the White House, reports Linsday Wise for McClatchy Newspapers and Brian Lowry for The Kansas City Star.

Two of farmers’ most powerful Republican advocates, Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, both of Kansas, where Trump won by 20 percentage points, say the budget's plan to slash crop insurance and other programs critical to rural areas "would badly wound one of the president’s most loyal constituencies," Wise and Lowry report. The budget cuts crop insurance by $28.5 billion—36 percent—over 10 years. That’s significantly more than former President Barack Obama ever proposed. Like Hillary Clinton in 2016, Obama was beaten badly in Kansas in 2008 and 2012.

Roberts, who called the cuts “not viable” and “very troubling” for Kansas, told reporters, “We’ve had a freeze, and we’ve had a historic prairie fire, and then we had another freeze and we've lost about 40 percent of the wheat crop. How on earth of those farmers supposed to stay in business without crop insurance?”

The Kansas senators, as well as others from predominantly rural states—where Trump won by a 61-34 count—"were taken aback by the degree of devastation to crop insurance in Trump’s budget, especially when farmers already are struggling with low crop prices," Wise and Lowry writes. "Farm bureaus and commodity groups blasted the move as 'unwarranted,' 'unwise' and 'devastating' to the farming economy."

Donn Teske, president of the Kansas Farmers Union and vice president of the National Farmers Union, "said the proposed cuts felt like a betrayal to farmers," telling reporters, “We’re in the middle of a farm crisis with no end in sight and they look at what the president’s proposing and they don’t see any help. They see a slap in the face."

Wise and Lowry write, "Chances are the cuts won’t ever become law. Republicans, who control 52 of the Senate’s 100 seats, are expected to write their own budget plan. With Roberts and Moran instrumental in writing that legislation, it’s doubtful Trump will get his way."

 

Written by Tim Mandell

Posted at 5/24/2017 11:00:00 AM

 

Kentucky’s Division of Driver Licensing supports state’s most prevalent profession with new online portal

FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 22, 2017) – For years, Kentucky’s commercial drivers – who transport passengers, deliver products and provide heavy-equipment services – have faced the frustration of interrupting their personal and professional schedules to visit a circuit court clerk’s office, locate a post office or find a fax machine to submit commercial driver’s license (CDL) paperwork. However, that inconvenience ends today with the launch of My CDL: Kentucky CDL Document Portal, a new digital solution provided by Kentucky’s Division of Driver Licensing (DDL) to maximize efficiency and improve customer satisfaction.

“We are pleased to offer our 136,000 CDL customers a modernized, secure method to submit documents,” said John-Mark Hack, commissioner of the Department of Vehicle Regulation (DVR). “By submitting applications and self-certifications and uploading medical examiner’s certificates and waivers to the My CDL portal, commercial drivers will save time and money, receive document status updates electronically and remain on the road without disruption to their daily schedules.”

According to Census Bureau data compiled by National Public Radio, the most widespread occupation in Kentucky has belonged to truck, delivery and tractor drivers from 1988-2014. Kentucky’s DDL call center staff and commercial driver’s license section support these drivers on a daily basis.

“In April alone, our CDL section received almost 6,000 calls,” said Matt Cole, director of the Division of Driver Licensing. “This type of call volume caused us to pause and evaluate how to provide great service to our customers utilizing technology and available resources.”

My CDL offers several functions that will reduce the need for CDL holders and applicants to seek customer support. Last year, commercial drivers in Kentucky submitted 149,820 CDL applications, medical examiner’s certificates and self-certifications – all manually processed by state employees and federally funded temporary staff. In 2016, Kentucky was notified federal funds would no longer be issued for temporary CDL support staff, accelerating the need to manage an increased workload with a lighter workforce.

By accessing My CDL at mycdl.ky.gov, commercial drivers can now complete their CDL application and self-certification online and upload a picture of their medical examiner’s certificate and waiver from any smartphone, PC, laptop or tablet. Visitors to the site will initially be redirected to the Kentucky Business One Stop (KBOS) portal to create a KBOS account. Users will then gain admittance to the My CDL portal, where they can begin submitting CDL paperwork.

Each time a document is submitted, the My CDL user will receive an email confirmation. Within 10 days of submitting their paperwork, users will be alerted via email whether their reviewed documents meet federal guidelines or require further attention.

“Losing 12 support staff from the loss of federal funding had great potential to impact customer satisfaction, so we were determined to find a solution that would accommodate the needs of our CDL customers and our CDL staff,” said Cole. “The online portal, developed in-house at no cost by our IT department, provides commercial drivers the freedom to submit paperwork at their convenience anywhere they travel, reduces our manual processes and allows us more time to devote to customer support.”

The My CDL portal is the newest resource available on the DVR’s retooled website, drive.ky.gov, which provides online services for Kentucky motorists. Along with accessing My CDL via drive.ky.gov, CDL holders can also file trucking taxes, renew vehicle registrations, purchase temporary permits and perform additional functions electronically.

“The Department of Vehicle Regulation will continue to develop customer resources like My CDL to support the free flow of commerce and economic development in the Commonwealth,” said Hack.

CDL customers can view a tutorial for navigating My CDL: Kentucky CDL Document Portal at https://youtu.be/ASVTd3c48Uo and can access My CDL quick reference guides at http://bit.ly/2qc7xwK.

Stay current with services provided by the DVR at facebook.com/DriveKY.gov, twitter.com/drivekygov and drive.ky.gov.