West Virginia veteran combatting President's budget

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- A West Virginia veteran is combatting parts of the President’s budget. The Morgantown man says the administration’s proposed cuts to national parks and wildlife would hurt fellow veterans, and other West Virginians. Washington Correspondent Alana Austin tracks him down on Capitol Hill, where he visited Senator Joe Manchin.

West Virginia veteran, Anthony Valentino, travels to Washington, DC to fight back against proposed cuts to national parks (Source: Gray DC)

“There’s no real way to explain it unless you’ve experienced it,” said Anthony Valentino.

When Valentino got out of the Navy three years ago, he struggled with transitioning back to civilian life. But he – like many fellow veterans – found healing in the outdoors.

“West Virginia has so many beautiful lakes and rivers and streams,” said Valentino. “I try to go kayaking as much as I can. So in the summer, I just keep my kayaks on my car, and go as much as I can.”

But Valentino – who came to Capitol Hill with other veterans for a lobby day – says precious natural resources will suffer if new proposed budget changes go forward. This year, the White House called for a 14 percent cut to the Interior Department, along with deep slashes to the land and water conservation fund.

“The parks are tremendous revenue-makers for all of us,” said Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

Manchin serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee. He is a strong opponent of the President’s budget cuts to parks and wildlife, and says he’s going to fight to increase funds for the Mountain State.

“So to say that we’re going to cut these budgets and the parks will be on skeleton crews, barely keeping the doors open and not maintaining, is not going to happen,” said Manchin.

But Chris Edwards at the libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute thinks the administration wants to invest more in the nation’s most popular parks, while giving control of the others to state and non-profit groups.

“I think the parks could raise a lot of their, more of their own money through fees, and I think they would be better managed than relying on Washington for this money,” said Chris Edwards, Cato Institute director of tax policy studies.

Edwards also points to the administration’s pitch to spend a billion dollars a year to target delayed maintenance projects on national parks. Congress will finalize the budget later in the year.

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