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$1.3 trillion federal spending plan good news for Northwoods aging departments, public radioSubmitted: 03/26/2018
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

$1.3 trillion federal spending plan good news for Northwoods aging departments, public radio
CRANDON, RHINELANDER - Working with little money to spare is nothing new to Tammy Queen.

"We make it right now, but it's tight," Queen said. "It's very tight."

Queen runs the Forest County Department on Aging. She got great news last Friday.

The federal government poured more money into aging programs as part of a $1.3 trillion spending bill President Trump signed Friday.


Three-quarters of Queen's budget goes to senior meal programs in Crandon, Laona, Wabeno, Armstrong Creek, and Alvin. But she'd love to extend that. With more money, she might be able to serve seniors in places like Hiles, Argonne, and Pickerel.

"It helps you keep going," Queen said of the program. "It's not about being old. It's about making sure you're staying active after retirement."

The federal funding increase for aging programs is the first since 2010.

"Every year, we have all been talking about how we need more money, we need more money, and yet the federal government...has been talking about cuts to the aging program," Queen said.

Other local organizations will also benefit from the spending plan.

About a year ago, Trump proposed eliminating a half-billion dollars in funding for public broadcasting. WXPR public radio in Rhinelander relies on federal money for 20 percent of its budget.

Last Friday's bill kept that money in place. But until then, WXPR was planning for how it might deal with a major funding cut.

"Would it hurt us? Of course it would hurt us," said Jeff Burke, the board chair of White Pine Community Broadcasting, WXPR's umbrella group. "They would have involved program cuts, as I referred to earlier. And yes, they would have led to staff cuts as well."

Preserving federal funding will mean WXPR doesn't have to make those tough decisions.

"We're just very thankful that the legislators did what they did," Burke said.

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