Student Senators influence 2016 federal budget

Appalachian Renaissance Initiative (ARI) Student Senate joined twenty-five regional elected localities in passing a resolution of support for the POWER+ Plan. This White House budget proposal makes available $1 billion for land reclamation, $55 million for job training, and strengthens healthcare and pension for 112304137_838569419593432_6832057177082826564_o00,000 coal miners. Totaling $10 billion for coal-impacted communities across the country, this plan could ignite the economy across several vital sectors. The vote took place in Whitesburg City Hall on December 2 and was unanimous. On December 18 Congress passed a 2016 budget with significant parts of the Plan, including workforce development and mine reclamation pilot projects in Kentucky. 

According to the office of 5th District Rep. Hal Rogers, the budget “provides $241 million for the reclamation of abandoned mine lands in coal communities nationwide. This funding includes a new pilot program aimed at stimulating economic development specifically in Appalachia. Coal communities with abandoned mine lands will have access to grants that will enable them to reclaim these lands, create new job opportunities and stimulate the local economy. This program is funded at $90 million and will be piloted in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.”


Junior Senator from Letcher County Central High School, Kiley Short shared during the student senate hearing, “This POWER+ Plan can remove the need for people to leave. It stimulates economic growth and business opportunities, which are imperative to the fate of my home, my culture, my people, and my future.”


Mayor of Whitesburg James Craft and Letcher County Judge Executive Jim Ward both addressed the Senate in support of the resolution, noting that Whitesburg and Letcher County were two of the first municipalities in the country to pass similar resolutions in support of the POWER+ Plan. Some student senators joined the vote virtually and the entire event was live streamed through


Local reporters with WYMT-TV and WMMT-FM covered the story. Stacie Fugate, a junior Senator from Hazard Independent shared with media “My brother has recently been laid off from work. This Plan hits home for not only me, but the majority of people in our region.”

 Student Senate is part of the Race to the Top Grant received by Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative (KVEC) and is comprised of senior and junior students from seventeen school districts in the region. Student Senate members work toward a more participatory role for students, as full partners in their education, through avenues of competitive community problem solving, economic development, and Kentucky Youth Assembly. 


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