Few doubt that finding ways to save money in the Federal government’s $3.5 trillion budget is possible. The real question is if the effort is a serious attempt to eliminate ineffective programs, rein in wasteful spending and focus on programs that truly have impact, or is it just a move to cut departments and agencies out of favor with whatever party is in the White House? Too often the answer is the latter — and, so it holds with this administration as well.
The administration said the president’s “skinny budget” proposal will offset a $54 billion boost in defense and security spending by cutting domestic programs. Of particular interest to local Goodwill organizations and the people they serve, President Trump’s budget is requesting $9.6 billion in funding for the Department of Labor, $2.6 billion less than 2016 funding level – a reduction of 21 percent. Specifically, a proposed cut of more than $2 billion would be achieved in part by shifting job training to the states. The Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) would be eliminated, among other programs.
The largest requested reductions compared to the enacted fiscal 2016 budget would be sustained by cuts to:
- Environmental Protection Agency (-30 percent)
- Departments of Agriculture and State (-29 percent)
- Health and Human Services (-23 percent)
- Labor (-21 percent)
- Commerce, the Army Corps of Engineers, and General Services Administration (-17 percent)
- Housing and Urban Development (-15 percent)
Some members of congress already expressed opposition to such sizeable cuts. “You can’t really be serious about creating jobs” if you cut appropriations for D.O.L. job training programs such as apprenticeships, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said in an interview. On the other side of the Capitol Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) vowed to fight for support workforce programs.
Even Republican members raised concerns. “As I always say, the president proposes and Congress disposes,” said Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL). Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) this month called the proposed cuts “dead on arrival.”
The President’s budget is more of signal of the administration’s priorities and Congress has never enacted a budget without making serious changes for the President’s request. We’ll be watching Congress closely and clearly letting them know that Goodwill supports workforce programs.
You can help by tell your federal representatives to support workforce spending. Your voice counts.
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