President Trump’s $1 trillion, defense-heavy budget could mean cuts, elimination of federally-funded programs active in Arkansas

by Wesley Brown (wesbrocomm@gmail.com) 1,000 views 

If all or most of President Donald Trump’s $1.065 trillion defense-heavy “skinny budget” for fiscal 2018 is approved by Congress, millions of dollars in federal funding that filters down to Arkansas agencies, nonprofits and communities will be cut or eliminated altogether.

In Arkansas, those cuts would impact many local and state agencies, organizations and nonprofits that directly or indirectly receive federal funding, ranging from rural airports and USDA service centers to state hospitals, arts and science groups and nonprofits across the state that provide an array of community services.

On the other hand, if Trump’s government overhaul is implemented, many familiar programs and entire agencies would be eliminated altogether. For example, the Trump administration budget calls for the elimination of the familiar federal Work Study, LIHEAP assistance, and Community Services Block Grant programs.

At the same time, funding would also end for independent agencies such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the Delta Regional Authority; the Denali Commission; the Institute of Museum and Library Services; the U.S. Trade and Development Agency; the Legal Services Corporation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness; and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

MILITARY BOOST, BORDER WALL BUDGETS
In the 62-page “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” President Trump says the budget sets priorities on federal spending that advances the safety and security of the American people. (Link here for a PDF of the budget blueprint.)

“The American people elected me to fight for their priorities in Washington, D.C. and deliver on my promise to protect our Nation. I fully intend to keep that promise,” Trump says. “Our aim is to meet the simple, but crucial demand of our citizens – a Government that puts the needs of its own people first. When we do that, we will set free the dreams of every American, and we will begin a new chapter of American greatness. … A budget that puts America first must make the safety of our people its number one priority – because without safety, there can be no prosperity.”

In his blueprint, Trump’s $52 billion increase in defense spending to $639 billion is one of the largest increases in the Department of Defense (DOD) since President Ronald Reagan was in office. The total includes $574 billion for the Pentagon’s base budget, a 10% increase from the 2017 annualized level and $65 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations primarily to fight ISIS.

Trump’s budget also repeals the defense sequestration by restoring $52 billion to DOD, as well as $2 billion to other national defense programs outside DOD, for a $54 billion total increase for national defense discretionary budget authority above the sequestration level budget cap.

“Reversing this indiscriminate neglect of the last administration is not only a fulfillment of the President’s promise, but it is also a requirement if this Nation’s security is to be maintained,” Trump says. “The military’s depletion under President Obama is our foremost challenge.”

The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security also will see substantial budget increases, primarily to construct a wall between the U.S.-Mexico border and hire 1,500 new border patrol agents and immigration enforcement officers and dozens of additional U.S. Marshals and attorneys to apprehend, transport and prosecute criminal and illegal aliens.

The president’s budget request includes $44.1 billion in net discretionary budget authority for Homeland Security, a $2.8 billion or 6.8% increase from 2017. This includes an investment of $2.6 billion in high-priority tactical infrastructure and border security technology, including funding to plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border as directed by Trump’s executive order in late January.

MORE MONEY FOR SCHOOL CHOICE, CHARTER PROGRAMS
Other key areas for the Trump administration would be public and private school choice, which would see an increase in investment by $1.4 billion compared to the 2017, ramping up to an annual total of $20 billion, and an estimated $100 billion including matching state and local funds.

This additional investment in 2018 includes a $168 million increase for charter schools, $250 million for a new private school choice program, and a $1 billion increase for Title I, dedicated to encouraging districts to adopt a system of student-based budgeting and open enrollment that enables funding to follow the student to the public school of his or her choice.

Overall, however, the Education Department, headed by Secretary Betsy Devos, would see a total budget of only $59 billion in 2018, down $9 billion or 13% from the previous year.

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