President’s FY18 “A New Foundation for American Greatness” Budget Not Great for Local Governments


On Tuesday, May 23, the president introduced his first ever, full budget proposal: A New Foundation for American Greatness. If adopted into law, the budget would impose catastrophic cuts to non-defense discretionary programs (those most targeted to local programs), while dramatically increasing spending for defense-related programs.

If you believe that the greatness of a nation is measured by the vitality of its communities and the well being of its citizens than this budget does not meet its goal as a new foundation for American greatness. Instead, it is a budget that will continue the “war” against communities, economically disadvantaged people, and programs that are important to local governments everywhere.

Let’s begin with the big picture. If adopted, this budget would cut $54 billion from programs designed to meet human needs in fiscal year 2018, and $1.4 trillion over 10 years. These include transportation, workforce development, economic development programs, community and economic development, housing, aging, clean water and air, youth and other so-called non-defense discretionary programs. The $1 trillion over 10 years infrastructure program promised during the campaign would be reduced to $200 billion over 10 years with much of the investments coming from the private sector through public-private partnerships.

Fiscal year 2018’s  $54 billion in “savings” would be appropriated to defense, resulting in a 10 percent increase in overall defense spending in fiscal year 2018 and a $469 billion increase over 10 years.

Departments like the Environmental Protection Agency would be cut by $2.6 billion or 31 percent as compared to fiscal year 2017; Labor would be cut by $2.5 billion or 21 percent; Health and Human Services by $7.8 billion or 16 percent; Commerce (including the Economic Development Administration) by $1.5 billion or 16 percent; Transportation by $2.4 billion or 13 percent; Housing and Urban Development by $4.3 billion or 12 percent; and Energy by $1.7 billion or 6 percent.

Moreover, nothing has changed since the president’s “skinny budget” was released.

Under the president’s full budget proposal, funding for:

  • CDBG, the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Choice Neighborhoods and the Self-help Home Ownership Opportunity Program would be eliminated;
  • Workforce development programs would be cut;
  • “New Start” and TIGER Transportation programs would be eliminated or substantially reduced, respectively;
  • Programs focused on climate change, water quality, and chemical safety, and “safe and sustainable water resources,” would be substantially reduced;
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) would end; and
  • Federal support for job training and employment service formula grants would be substantially reduced so that state, localities and employers would accept the costs for workforce training and development.

The question that is often asked is whether federal spending is sustainable. The question that may need to be asked now is whether these cuts are sustainable. Tens of millions of people will be directly impacted by these and other cuts (last year 23 million households received assistance to pay for heating and cooling through LIHEAP and millions received assistance to achieve their workforce goals). And if these cuts are approved, regions across the nation will find that the resources they and their cities and counties need to do the work they do will dry up.

This budget is everything but a new foundation for American greatness.

Review the president’s budget proposal to learn more.