Budget Cuts Threaten Fish and Wildlife, Co-management

Being Frank

By Lorraine Loomis, Chair, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission 

Years of declining funding combined with a current $2 billion state budget deficit leaves the treaty Indian tribes in western Washington wondering if the Department of Fish and Wildlife will be able to meet its natural resources management responsibilities.

The shortfall led Gov. Jay Inslee to instruct state agencies to submit budget reduction options equal to 15 percent of the money they receive from the state’s general fund. While there is hope that the governor might spare some or all of the nearly $11 million in budget cut options proposed by WDFW, the results would be devastating if they become a reality.

Hatchery closures and production cuts would mean the loss of more than 30 million salmon and steelhead annually. Fewer enforcement officers would be employed, leaving some areas with little or no coverage. Resource protection would be further decreased by reductions to the department’s Hydraulic Project Approval program that regulates construction in state waters.

In just the past six years, the department has cut more than $50 million from its budget, much of it from hatchery production. During that time tribes have picked up the tab to keep salmon coming home for everyone who lives here. Tribes are doing everything from taking over the operation of some state hatcheries to buying fish food and making donations of cash and labor to keep up production at other state facilities. That is in addition to the 40 million salmon and steelhead produced annually at tribal hatcheries.

Meanwhile, wild salmon populations continue to decline because of the ongoing loss of habitat that state government is unable to stop. The loss of wild salmon and their habitat has already severely restricted the tribes’ abilities to exercise our treaty-reserved fishing rights. Additional state budget cuts would only worsen the situation.

Budget problems do not excuse the state from its obligations to follow federal law and uphold commitments made by the United States in treaties with Indian tribes. Our treaties and the court decisions that upheld them are considered the “supreme law of the land” under the U.S. Constitution. As salmon co-manager with the tribes, the state of Washington does not have the option of turning its back and walking away.

Hatchery programs are especially important to fulfilling the treaty right that salmon must be available for tribes to harvest. Without hatcheries and the fish they provide, there would be no fishing at all by anyone in western Washington. We must have hatcheries for as long as natural salmon production continues to be limited by poor habitat.

Further cuts to WDFW’s budget would be another step backward in our efforts to save the salmon. Gov. Inslee should look someplace else for the funding that the state needs. He should not try to balance the state budget on the backs of the fish and wildlife resources and the people who depend on them.


Kickapoo chairman: K-12 bill could hurt Native American students

Cuts to bus aid would hit rural areas hard, warns Steve Cadue

By Celia Llopis-Jepsen, cjonline.com

2011 FILE PHOTO/THE CAPITAL-JOURNALIn this 2011 photo, Steve Cadue, center, accepts a proclamation from Gov. Sam Brownback at the Kansas Museum of History. In a letter to Brownback this week, Cadue expressed concern that the Legislature might cut transportation aid to school districts.
In this 2011 photo, Steve Cadue, center, accepts a proclamation from Gov. Sam Brownback at the Kansas Museum of History. In a letter to Brownback this week, Cadue expressed concern that the Legislature might cut transportation aid to school districts.

The head of the Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas expressed concern in a letter to Gov. Sam Brownback this week that the Legislature could cut transportation aid to school districts to help foot the bill for court-ordered equalization funding.

Tribal Chairman Steve Cadue suggested cuts to state aid for busing students to school would hit rural districts — and therefore Native American students — especially hard.

“As indicated in your own Governor’s Proclamations, the legacy of illegal and unscrupulous land cession treaties has left many tribes such as the Kickapoo located in rural areas on remote plots of land,” Cadue wrote. “Native American children will be disproportionately impacted by funding cuts to school bus services.”

Last week, House Republicans unveiled a K-12 finance bill that addresses a recent Kansas Supreme Court ruling ordering the state to fill a gap in equalization funding to school districts with weaker local tax bases.

In addition to addressing the court order to remedy the estimated $129 million shortfall, the bill proposed cutting an estimated $14.8 million in transportation aid for schools.

Cadue invited the governor to meet one-on-one to discuss the potential effects of such cuts.

“The current state of education for Native Americans is such that it cannot withstand funding cuts and service disruptions without increasing the educational achievement gap,” Cadue said. “I urge you to ensure that our Native American children have the same educational opportunities as the most fortunate children in Kansas.”

The Capital-Journal has contacted the Governor’s Office seeking comment.

A House budget panel has been holding hearings on the K-12 funding bill this week. The bill has drawn criticism from all sides. School districts are concerned lawmakers aren’t making a good faith effort to satisfy the court order, and are instead trimming funding from elsewhere in public education, such as aid for busing and for virtual schools. At the same time, some conservative Republican lawmakers and education-reform advocates would like to include school-choice options in the bill, such as expanding charter schools or allowing corporate tax breaks for private school tuition scholarships.

The governor released a statement earlier this month calling on the Legislature to fully fund the court’s equalization order and acknowledging “the solution to the equity problem will require significant new funding.”

Federal Government to temporarily cut Native American loan program

Lender 411


Last Updated: 3/8/2013

By Daniel Duffield

As a result of the failure of Congress to agree on legislation to avoid the automatic budget cuts, the U.S. is now facing the impact of the sequester in a variety of areas. Public services are now being maintained by the Commitment Authority until Congress can find a solution to the budget crisis that has loomed over the American economy.

However, one program has already reached its spending limit and must now be suspended indefinitely.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a written statement to the Mortgage Broker’s Association (MBA) to cease all originations for the Indian Home Loan Guarantee Program (Section 184) that provides mortgage loans for Native American citizens. For mortgages not already approved by the HUD, sources state that the chance of these loans closing is zero.

Section 184 refers to an 11-year old mortgage product created specifically for the financing of loans for American Indian and Alaska Native families, Alaska Village tribes, or tribally designated housing entities. Essentially, this loan program was established to offer an opportunity to realize the American Dream of homeownership for populations with few other mortgage options.

HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan warned for weeks that such housing programs would be adversely affected by the reduction of the budget caused by sequestration.

Donovan criticized the severity of these budget cuts which could potentially push a subclass of Americans into unnecessary homelessness.

Providing an explanation of these ideas to the Senate Appropriations Committee last month, Donovan expressed that a significant portion of the sequester’s impact will be seen as a result of budget cuts to the HUD’s Continuum of Care programs, through which families and individuals that had previously suffered homelessness were promptly re-housed and provided with additional assistance in the hopes of regaining self-sufficiency.

Donovan added that the sequestration’s automatic budget cuts would abolish some of the critical funding for the U.S. homeless shelter system maintained by the Emergency Solutions Grants.

Furthermore, Donovan stated that the sequestration would remove approximately 100,000 formerly homeless Americans, veterans included, from their present residences or their residences as obtained through program which offer emergency housing.

Original Article