President Releases Budget that Would Undercut Funding to Regions

president's budget proposal

On February 12, the president officially submitted his fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget proposal and addendum to Congress. Much like last year’s FY 2018 budget proposal, the FY 2019 recommendations would make significant programmatic and funding changes to federal programs:

  • The proposed budget would ratchet up the amount of money made available for military spending. The president’s budget would allocate $647 billion for defense spending in FY 2019 – the topline level established by the recent congressional two-year budget caps deal.
  • The recommendations advise Congress to enact significant funding reductions and change program benefits and participation requirements for mandatory federal programs (including SNAP, Medicare, and Medicaid) and a wide range of non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs.
  • The president’s budget would allocate only $540 billion for NDD spending – $57 billion less than the budget cap Congress set for FY 2019. This leaves a noteworthy $107 billion parity gap between defense and NDD funding levels in the new fiscal year.

The president’s FY 2019 budget recommendations would either slash or eliminate funds for many of the NDD programs regions use to address housing, transportation, health, workforce, energy, and other community needs. This is likely to place a greater burden on local governments everywhere, requiring them to devote more staff and financial resources to ensure the needs of their residents are met.

The following is a summary of the recommendations in the president’s budget and addendum for selected departments, agencies, and programs that we are monitoring because of their potential impact on communities:

NOTE: These numbers are comparisons to the FY 2017 enacted or actual levels since the FY 2018 omnibus was not yet passed at the time of this publication. The department/agency totals reflect discretionary funding unless stated otherwise.

U.S. Census Bureau
FY 2019 proposed funding level: $3.8 B (+2.3 billion, 153 percent)

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
FY 2019 proposed funding level: $19.2 B (-$3.5 billion, 15 percent)

  • Sharp decreases to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) over the next ten years (-$213 billion, 30 percent). The proposal also includes other benefit and eligibility cuts that will cause at least 4 million people to lose their SNAP benefits
  • Limits eligibility in the crop insurance program and caps premium subsidies
  • Proposes a $136 million cut to conservation programs
  • Zeroes out Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program (-$318 million over the next four years)

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
FY 2019 proposed funding level: $30.6 B (+$521 million, 2 percent)

  • Zeroes out Weatherization and Intergovernmental programs funding (-$278 million, 100 percent)
  • Significantly reduces funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which houses programs focused on sustainable transportation; renewable energy such as wind, solar, water, and geothermal, and energy efficiencies such as advanced manufacturing and building technologies (-$1.3 billion, 66 percent)
  • Most of the proposed increases in funding would be for fossil energy programs and national nuclear security activities

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
FY 2019 proposed funding level: $95.4 B (+$9.1 billion, 11 percent)

  • Zeroes out Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program funding (-$3.4 billion)
  • Zeroes out Social Services Block Grant (-$1.7 billion)
  • Reduces the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Block Grant and eliminates the related TANF Contingency Fund
  • Provides a total of $10 billion in additional discretionary funds to address the opioid crisis and mental illness

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
FY 2019 proposed funding level: $41.2 B (-$6.8 billion, 14 percent)

  • Zeroes out Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program funding (-$3 billion)
  • Zeroes out HOME Investment Partnerships Program funding (-$950 million)
  • Decreases funding across HUD’s rental assistance programs (-11 percent)
  • Low-income households that receive housing support would now have to pay 35 percent of their income for housing, rather than the current 30 percent

U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)
FY 2019 proposed funding level: $10.9 B (-$1.1 billion, 9 percent)

  • Zeroes out Senior Community Service Employment Program funding (-$400 million)
  • Keeps Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funding at or just above level funding
    • WIOA Adult: (+$4.9 million, 1 percent)
    • WIOA Youth: (±0 million, 0 percent)
    • WIOA Dislocated Worker: (+$5.8 million, 1 percent)
  • Increases funding for national apprenticeship program activities (+$105 million, 111 percent)

U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT)
FY 2019 proposed discretionary funding level: $15.9 B (-$3.4 billion, 18 percent)

  • Zeroes out TIGER grant program funding (-$500 million)
  • Zeroes out New Starts program funding for new projects, limiting funding to projects with existing full funding grant agreements only (-$1.4 billion)
  • Decreases Essential Air Services program funding (-57 million)
  • Reduces federal support for Amtrak and other rail programs (-$892 million)
  • Significantly reduces funding for Transportation Planning, Research & Development (-$4.1 million), Research and Technology (-$6.0 million), Cybersecurity Initiative (-$5.0 million) and other programs housed under the Secretary of Transportation

U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA)
FY 2019 proposed funding level: $0 (-$300 million, 100 percent)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
FY 2019 proposed funding level: $6.1 B (-$2.1 billion, 26 percent)

  • Small increase for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (+13.1 million, 1 percent), but a decrease for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (-81.1 million, 9 percent)
  • Increases Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program funding (+10 million, 50 percent)
  • Decreases State and Local and Tribal Air Quality Management Programs (-$67 million, 29 percent)
  • Reduces brownfields projects funding under State and Tribal Assistance Grants (-$26.4 million, 30 percent)
  • Decreasing the overall funding they are dedicating to provide Americans with clean air (-$355 million, 46 percent), water (-$796 million, 22 percent), and land (-$171 million, 14 percent)

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
FY 2019 proposed funding level: (-$355 million, 8 percent)

  • Largest cut to the agency is to the Federal Disaster Assistance program (-$379 million, 13 percent)

It would be easy to say that this budget was “dead on arrival” or that it will have no impact on Congress’ work, but the reality is that no one should write-off the president’s budget proposal. The document often serves as a framework for initial appropriations bills in the House and Senate. Additionally, many of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s priorities have been included in this budget proposal, including cuts to entitlement programs – especially the TANF program – and serious consideration to impose work requirements on households that receive social benefits.

Congress has yet to pass a final appropriations bill for FY 2018, so enacting the president’s proposed course of action for FY 2019 is unlikely to happen anytime soon. But depending on the outcome of the midterm elections, more members of Congress could potentially support the president’s priorities for FY 2019 than those currently in the 115th Congress.

NARC will continue to monitor and report the budget and appropriations debate as it unfolds. If you have specific questions about FY 2018 or FY 2019 appropriations, please reach out to Neil Bomberg (neil@narc.org) or Maci Morin (maci.morin@narc.org).

Neil Bomberg

Neil Bomberg

Senior Policy Advisor at National Association of Regional Councils
I am a highly experienced public sector lobbyist committed to ensuring that the issues important to regions and the local governments they represent are heard in Congress and the Administration. My issue areas include: budget and appropriations, human services, health care, workforce development, and economic and community development. I worked as a lobbyist at the National Association of Counties and National League of Cities for more than 26 years where I focused on labor and employment, and human development, respectively.
Neil Bomberg

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