6 Things We’re Watching Out of Trump’s “Skinny Budget”

By Melissa Young, Director, National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity 

The Trump Administration submitted its FY18 budget blueprint to Congress this week – his “skinny budget.” The plan proposes historic cuts and outright eliminates a range of programs and services serving low-income Americans and families – all of which are critical to ensuring safety, stability, and creating pathways to employment and economic opportunity for Americans who are chronically unemployed.

Here are six programs, services, and agencies on our radar that are slated for total elimination through the Administration’s “skinny budget.” As Congress debates FY18 funding priorities we hope you’ll stand with us to defend these and other vital efforts serving low-income Americans.

#1: Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). CDBG programs fund vital community economic development and infrastructure initiatives across the country while connecting low-income individuals to work. For example, CDBG programs help fund transitional jobs programs in Milwaukee through the office of public works and employment pathways into transportation apprenticeships in Chicago. Eliminating CDBG is in direct conflict with the Administration’s interest in re-building America and its calls for infrastructure investment.

#2: Choice Neighborhoods. The Choice Neighborhoods program supports locally driven strategies to address struggling neighborhoods through a comprehensive approach to neighborhood transformation. Made up of local leaders, residents, and other stakeholders these groups come together to create and implement a plan that transforms distressed housing and addresses challenges in surrounding neighborhoods – including enhancing community safety. Given this Administration’s drumbeat around improving public safety and reducing violence, eliminating this program is particularly short-sighted.

#3: United States Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). Coupled with the proposed budget cuts of $6.2 billion to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the elimination of the USICH as an interagency coordinating body, amounts to nothing short of what advocates have called a “homelessness plan.” Budget proposals like this are in direct conflict with this Administration’s campaign promises to ensure that people do not “die on the sidewalks and streets.”

#4: Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). The only federal program of its kind, SCSEP creates economic opportunity for individuals 55 or older living in poverty and contributes to the well-being of communities nationwide. Priority is given to veterans and their spouses as well as individuals who have a disability, have low literacy skills or limited English proficiency, reside in a rural area, and are homeless or at risk of homelessness or have low employment prospects. Two-thirds of the low-income older Americans participating in SCSEP are women and almost half are from racial or ethnic minorities. Coupled with the proposed draconian cuts to the Department of Labor—$2.5 billion in cuts or about 21 percent below current funding levels—it’s hard to see how this Administration is serious about supporting pathways to work for all Americans.

#5: Corporation for National and Community Service. Among other things, the Corporation for National and Community Service supports the Social Innovation Fund program, a pay for performance project that has spurred the development and sophistication of evidence-based solutions. One of them being the expansion of social enterprise programs to support pathways into employment for individuals with employment barriers across the country while creating jobs and positively impacting businesses.

#6: 21st Century Community Learning programs. At a time when many communities are looking for school-based solutions to support young people—particularly young people of color—the Administration’s “skinny budget” calls for the elimination of 21st Century Community Learning programs which are aimed at providing before and after school programs for youth especially those living in high-poverty communities. As our recent report demonstrates, continued disinvestment from communities and on behalf of young people can lead to negative ripple effects in communities for generations.

The bottom line? Budgets are moral documents – they reflect our values and priorities as a society. The Trump Administration’s “skinny budget” has some serious failings as it relates to ensuring equity and opportunity for all and does not reflect the values and priorities of millions of Americans.

Get involved. Tweet your member of Congress with this message: I/We believe the federal #budget must ensure equity and opportunity for ALL.


About National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity

Heartland Alliance’s National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity is dedicated to ending chronic unemployment and poverty. We believe that every person deserves the opportunity to succeed in work and support themselves and their families. Through our field building, we provide support and guidance that fosters more effective and sustainable employment efforts. Our policy and advocacy work advances solutions to the systemic issues that drive chronic unemployment.

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