Kaine comments on Trump budget, impacts on Virginia
U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, released the following statement on President Trump’s FY2018 budget.
“The detailed budget released today confirms where President Trump’s priorities lie: he wants to dismantle critical programs that support Virginia’s families, children, seniors, and businesses in exchange for misguided spending and tax cuts that leave working families behind. After promising not to cut Medicaid, Trump’s budget would slash the program, which provides more than one million Virginians – including more than 594,000 kids, 112,000 seniors, and 186,000 people with disabilities – with health care, and make drastic cuts to programs like Social Security and Meals on Wheels that support those in need. It would cut nutrition assistance that keeps the poorest Americans from going hungry, take away job training initiatives that are critical to American workers’ success, and hurt the environment and our tourism industry. Trump’s budget would cause disproportionate pain in the rural communities he promised to help – including those in Southern and Southwest Virginia and the Valley – by eliminating the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Economic Development Administration, and clean coal research that could help revitalize Southwest Virginia’s economy.
“It’s particularly disappointing that President Trump ignored the concerns raised by Virginians and local organizations across the Commonwealth that highlighted just how painful these cuts would be to their communities. I will work with my Budget Committee colleagues on both sides of the aisle to prevent these harmful, short-sighted cuts.”
Below is a list of some of the impacts President Trump’s budget would have on Virginians:
Medicaid: President Trump’s budget cuts $610 billion in Medicaid, on top of the hundreds of billions in Medicaid cuts that were included as part of efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This has the potential impact of affecting nearly 1.3 million Virginians who rely on the program for health care or long-term care coverage.
Economic Development Administration (EDA): President Trump’s budget abolishes the EDA, which in just the past two years alone has provided $1.5 million to Roanoke for infrastructure improvements to support a manufacturing facility that will create 154 jobs and $2 million to Boydton for wastewater treatment that was critical to securing a new Microsoft plant in Southern Virginia.
Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC): President Trump’s budget abolishes the ARC, which in the last two years alone has supported 38 projects in Virginia’s 25 Appalachian counties, creating or retaining some 1,350 jobs, supporting job training initiatives that trained more than 800 students and workers, and attracting more than the total ARC amount in private investments.
SNAP: President Trump’s budget cruelly restricts access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a safety net to prevent the most vulnerable Americans—particularly seniors and children—from going hungry. In Virginia in 2016, some 826,000 residents participated in SNAP, and the average monthly SNAP benefit to each household member was $118, or $1.31 per meal.
Advanced Coal: In addition to huge cuts to renewable energy research and development, President Trump’s budget cuts the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fossil Energy R&D office in half. This is a decision at direct odds with the President’s stated desire to bolster the coal industry.
Opioids: Despite claiming to protect funding for the opioid epidemic, the budget cuts Community Mental Health Services block grants by $116 million and reduces other state mental health grants by $136 million. Substance abuse treatment grants for states would fall by $73 million and public awareness programs would be cut by $74 million.
Student Loans: President Trump’s budget proposes a $143 billion cut in student loan programs, including abolishing the Public Service Loan Forgiveness programs, which undermines the commitment the federal government has made to those who committed their lives to public service.
Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) State Grants: President Trump’s budget cuts $168 million to grants given to states to strengthen high quality CTE programs even though President Trump has said he is committed to creating jobs and ensuring workers are qualified to fill new jobs.
Chesapeake Bay Program: President Trump’s budget eliminates the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program, a bipartisan, public-private initiative first established during the Reagan Administration that provides grants to help localities, farmers, and others take steps to reduce the pollution flowing into the Bay.
Rural Water: President Trump’s budget eliminates the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rural water and wastewater loan and grant program, which has helped countless small rural Virginia communities finance water infrastructure.
Transportation Infrastructure: President Trump’s budget eliminates the TIGER transportation infrastructure program. TIGER has been in such high demand that it has funded only 6% of the applications submitted nationwide over the life of the program. In Virginia, it has funded an I-564 connector from Norfolk International Terminals; the Richmond Pulse bus-rapid transit corridor; the I-64 Delta Frames Bridges in Rockbridge County, and others. Countless other project applications have fallen short due to limited funds.
Federal Employees: The President’s budget eliminates Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLAs) for the Federal Employees Retirement System and would reduce COLAs for the Civil Service Retirement System by 0.5%. These retirement benefit cuts not only threaten the retirement security of current public servants but will depress the ability of the federal government to recruit talented public servants in the future. The President’s budget could also hurt the retirement income of current retirees because of its proposed changes to annuities, hurting retirees on fixed incomes and suddenly altering the retirement plans of current employees.
Veterans Individual Unemployability and COLA: The budget eliminates unemployment assistance to retirement age veterans, impacting more than 225,000 veterans. The budget also plans to “round down” cost-of-living increases for all veterans receiving benefits checks.
Legal Services Corporation: President Trump’s budget eliminates funding for Legal Services Corporation, which Congress funded at $385 million in FY2017 to provide access to justice for low-income Americans, especially vulnerable populations like the elderly and military veterans.
Community Development Block Grants (CDBG): President Trump’s budget eliminates the $3 billion CDBG program, which awarded $50 million in competitive grants to more than 30 Virginia cities and counties last year alone.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): The President’s budget makes cuts to the Social Security Disability Insurance program, going against his campaign pledge to protect Social Security, and penalizes families with more than one disabled family member.