March 22, 2017 under Policy, Advocacy & Research

FPWA Pushes For A Fiscal Plan that Stands With Underserved Population

By Jennifer Jones Austin

“Many other Government agencies and departments will also experience cuts. These cuts are sensible and rational. Every agency and department will be driven to achieve greater efficiency and to eliminate wasteful spending in carrying out their honorable service to the American people” states Donald Trump in his administration’s $1.1 trillion America’s First Budget: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again.

However, what President Trump leaves out is that real Americans will suffer from the cuts proposed in this budget.

President Trump’s proposed budget will go through negotiations with many iterations before a final budget is approved and passed by Congress. But, as we all should expect, this proposal does not come as a surprise for it mirrors his campaign promises and his repeated assertions to make America safer and stronger, drain the swamp, and reduce excessive government spending and waste.  It is indeed, like all elected officials’ budgets, a values or moral statement about what they believe is most important, and what they feel is least important and can be sacrificed for what they desire.

To be clear, the proposed budget released is not a final budget, but rather a fiscal plan that applies to discretionary spending. At present, mandatory spending, or entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and SNAP are not included in this plan.

The majority of Trump’s proposed budget is focused on defense spending. $54 billion is set aside to increase the Department of Defense and Homeland Security funding by 10 percent.  It is also revenue and cost-neutral, with proposed cuts for programs that serve poor and vulnerable populations being made to cover the increase in defense spending. Several agencies and programs will see their budgets significantly reduced or completely defunded if Trump’s proposal goes forward as is, including:

The Department of Education
21st Century Community Learning Centers program: cuts to before and after-school programs and summer programs

  • Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program: grants to help students with disabilities or limited English proficiency is poised to lose $190million
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program (SEOG): A financial aid program that can give up to $4,000 a year to college students based on financial need is poised to lose $732 million.
  • Teacher Quality Partnership: a teacher training and recruitment grant program poised to lose $43 million

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD):

  • Community Development Block Grants (CDBG): a 42-year-old antipoverty affordable housing program serving more than 1,100 local and state governments is poised to lose $3 billion which represents a complete defunding of this program
  • Section 4 Capacity Building for Community Development and Affordable Housing program: an affordable housing program which supports organizations like the Local Initiatives Support Corp is poised to lose $35 million

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):

  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): a heating, cooling and weatherization assistance program for low income and poor Americans is poised to lose $3.4 billion which represents a complete defunding of this program
  • Health professions and nursing training programs: is poised to lose $403 million
  • Community Services Block Grants (CSBG): is an anti-poverty grant program poised to lose $715 million

The Department of Labor:

  • Senior Community Service Employment Program(SCSEP): is a job training program for low-income people 55 and older is poised to lose $434 million
  • Occupational Safety and Health AdministrationTraining Grants: a program poised to lose $11 million

Independent Agencies and Programs:

  • The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)is poised to be completely defunded eliminating its $152 million federal budget
  • The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is poised to be completely defunded eliminating its $485 million federal budget. This program supports public television such as PBS and national public radio.

Under this proposed budget, New Yorkers do not bode well. This loss of federal aid will adversely affect New York City schools by $140 million, 700,000 LIHEAP recipients, and New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) which serves 400,000 low income New York City resident.

FPWA is committed to antipoverty causes with the goal of removing economic and social barriers that stand in the way of upward mobility and economic prosperity. This budget not only stands in the way of these goals, but is also morally corrupt and betrays the value of the American citizenry to support our neighbors.

FPWA vehemently opposes this budget, and is pushing for a fiscal plan that will continue to invest in programs and policies that benefit underserved populations.

Jennifer Jones Austin is the CEO and Executive Director at FPWA and is co-host of a segment about poverty and national policy for the nationally syndicated radio show, Keepin’ It Real with Rev. Al Sharpton, which airs Thursdays at 2:00 pm ET.