An estimated six million people make proposals around Valentine’s Day, and this week President Trump issued a proposal of his own, the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) budget proposal, of course! Didn’t Congress just approve a two-year budget? Yes, and that’s where things can get confusing. The Congress, the Administration, and the Fiscal calendar have had a rocky relationship of sorts. The FY18 fiscal year officially began on October 1, 2017. At that time, Congress hadn’t passed a budget, so the government was funded under a continuing resolution (CR). Since that time, Congress passed five short-term CRs to keep the government open. In the last agreement, Congress agreed to fund the government until March 23rd and also agreed to a two-year budget deal. The budget is a spending outline that provides the top-line dollar amount for the administrative agencies (ex: Department of Labor, Department of Education, etc.), to spend. The Appropriations Committee in the House and Senate now have to agree on how to spend the money as they appropriate funds to specific programs within each agency over the next several weeks.
In the meantime, the President was still required to issue a budget proposal for FY19. The fact that Congress agreed to the budget outline for FY19 essentially renders his proposal moot. In addition to the FY19 proposal, the Administration also released an addendum to their FY18 budget proposal that aligns spending with the new budget agreement. The deal reached by Congress provided an increase to domestic programs ($63 billion more in FY18 and $68 billion more in FY19). The Administration has stressed that Congress does not have to spend all of that money, but if they do, the budget proposal can serve as a guide for spending.
Unfortunately, the budget proposal does not show much love for areas of interest to local Goodwill organizations and the people served by job-training and workforce development programs. The $4.4 trillion budget request includes changes and cuts to food assistance (SNAP), welfare, housing programs, Medicaid and Medicare. While an additional $1.5 billion would go largely to workforce development grants within the Department of Labor (DOL), the budget proposes to eliminate the Senior Community Service Employment Program – the only job training program for older workers, of which Goodwill Industries International is a national grantee. Overall, the proposal calls for $9.4 billion in funding for DOL, a cut of 21 percent relative to current funding levels. Goodwill Industries International is a member of the Campaign to Invest in America’s Workforce which issued a letter detailing the devastating impact some of these cuts would have in local communities. The budget also proposes cuts to programs for fiscal years beyond those in the two-year deal reached by Congress.
Lawmakers may try to renege on the deal or we could see some of the concerning policy proposals and programmatic reforms included in legislation outside of budget and appropriations. For example, the FARM bill which includes the food assistance program (SNAP) is due for reauthorization and lawmakers may try to include some of the President’s proposed changes in the bill.
We’ll continue to keep our advocates informed of new developments and opportunities where your voice can help us protect critical programs that we care about, as we go through the budget and appropriations process for the remainder of FY18, in advance of the start of FY19, and for years to come.