President Donald Trump’s budget, released Tuesday, calls for the elimination of the Appalachian Regional Commission, an organization that has helped support the economies of Appalachia for over 40 years.
ARC is among several regional commissions the White House is proposing to eliminate; the Delta Regional Authority, the Denali Commission, and the Northern Border Regional Commission would also be eliminated, shifting responsibility for economic development to individual states.
The commission is a federal-state partnership that services economic growth in 420 counties across 13 states: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Trump won 10 of those states.
Using data from the New York Times, TIME crunched the numbers for the counties included in the ARC, and found that Trump won 95% of them in the presidential election, even the majority of the counties in Virginia, Maryland, and New York — the three states in the ARC Clinton won. Just 20 counties out of 420 voted for Hillary Clinton. In West Virginia, where all counties are part of the ARC, Trump trounced Clinton by 42 points; she did not win a single county.
The data is not surprising; Trump’s popularity in Appalachia was well documented throughout the campaign, as many found his rhetoric about bringing back manufacturing and coal mining jobs inspiring. But now, if the White House gets its way, a commission that was devoted to helping the people in these economies will be eliminated.
Since October 2015, the ARC has supported 55 projects in West Virginia that will retain more than 2,700 jobs and educate thousands of workers across the state.
“The proposed cuts to the Appalachian Regional Commission would adversely impact our most vulnerable populations in these communities, reduce or eliminate essential services, and hinder economic development and job growth,” said West Virginia Commerce Secretary H. Wood Thrasher. “Any action that places this funding in jeopardy is detrimental to the future of our communities and our state.”
A representative for the ARC had no comment about the proposal to eliminate the commission.
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