The blueprint of President Trump's budget, outlined Thursday, is just a proposal. The plan, like every president's budget, will go through negotiations and revisions in Congress, where lawmakers heavily weigh their local priorities.
Some ideas won't get past the starting line, and Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters yesterday that department heads will have broad discretion in how they reach their targeted reductions.
But the document gives concrete insight to the new president's priorities, in far more detail than a Tweet. Here, in black and white, are the areas Trump wants to emphasize with the government's resources, and those he can do without -- and how his priorities affect the Philadelphia region.
Defense: In his introduction to the budget, President Trump said enormous increases in defense spending – to the tune of $54 billion, one of the largest ever – were necessary “in these dangerous times.” The proposed budget likewise cuts $54 billion from non-defense spending in order to fund the increase. The Department of Defense is the biggest federal employer in Philadelphia, with 7,459 employees. (The Department of Homeland Security, which is also getting a 6.8 percent funding boost, employs 1,513 people here.)
Included in the proposed defense budget are funds for LockheedMartin's F-35 fighter jet, Boeing Apache and Sikorsky BlackHawk helicopters, among others. Since those orders were expected, defense stocks were little changed this morning.
“The 2018 outline issued this morning is an important step in the government’s effort to craft a budget," Boeing spokesman Todd Blecher said, noting that "details may change" in Congress. Boeing builds the V-22 Osprey aircraft for the Marines at its Ridley Township factory, which employs around 5,000, making it the Philadelphia area's largest military contracting plant.
Immigration enforcement: The proposed budget also ramps up hiring for immigration enforcement and border patrol -- 1,500 more hires -- and provides funding for expanded deportation and detention operations. The budget also would set aside $15 million to implement mandatory nationwide use of the E-Verify system, which allows employers to check job-seekers' work eligibility.
Earlier this month, 248 people were arrested in an immigration sweep across four states, led by Philadelphia immigration agents – the largest such operation in the region in some time.
The Veterans Administration: The VA, whose Philly outpost has been plagued with controversy, sees a $4.4 billion, or 6 percent, increase in funding under Trump’s proposed budget, which includes boosts to discretionary funding for VA healthcare, and funds the Veterans Choice program, which gives vets “the choice to seek care at the VA or through a private provider,” the budget reads.
Kristen Ruell, a VA whistleblower, met the news of the agency's increased funding with excitement. "I think it’s great news for the VA," she said. "Great that the president is keeping his word on his dedication for veterans."
Though Ruell has criticized management of the VA in the past, she expressed confidence in the new leadership. "I feel that if they do get money, that it will be used wisely, where in the past, I probably didn’t feel the same," she said.
"Anytime there’s budget cuts, a lot of people are impacted and it can be upsetting to many," Ruell said, "but I’m at least happy at the VA that they’re giving more money for the veterans because they really deserve it."
"In my opinion I actually feel positive about the place," she said.
School-choice advocates and charter schools: Proponents of school choice, long a subject of fierce debate in Philadelphia, were encouraged by the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, and this budget proposal seems to deliver on the secretary's own advocacy for school choice. President Trump’s proposed spending plan would cut about $9 billion from the U.S. Department of Education’s $68 billion budget and drastically rearrange its priorities.
The president has called for boosting funds for a charter school grant program that helps open new charter schools and expand and replicate successful ones. Trump wants the program to grow from $333 million to $501 million.
“The Keystone Alliance is pleased that President Trump’s 2018 budget proposal would increase funding for the Charter Schools Program as well as direct additional funding to initiatives that would allow more students and families to attend the public school of their choice,” Executive Director Tim Eller said Thursday. “However, Congress must enact changes to the Charter Schools Program to make it easier for individual public charter schools to access this funding when a state’s education agency refuses or fails to apply for this program.”
He said that publicly funded charter schools serve as “high-quality alternatives to traditional public schools” for students across the state.
The alliance, which is based in Harrisburg, represents 55 of the state’s 163 brick-and-mortar charter schools but not the 14 cyber charters that enroll students from across the state who receive online instruction in their homes. More than 133,000 students are enrolled in charter schools in Pennsylvania. Nearly 65,000 of them are Philadelphia students.
But Thomas J. Gentzel, the executive director and CEO of the National School Boards Association, blasted President Trump’s proposal.
“The Administration’s proposed $9 billion cut to the education budget is irresponsible, and it would put programs and needed support services provided by schools at risk if it is adopted by Congress,” said Gentzel, who was the executive director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association before taking the helm of the national organization. ”The proposal redirects hundreds of millions of dollars from public schools – often, school districts that rely most heavily on federal aid, forcing them to cut vital services or raise local property taxes.”
Nicole Reigelman, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, said Pennsylvania was familiar with what happens when education funds are slashed. “Here in Pennsylvania we have seen first-hand the consequences of budgets that indiscriminately cut programs,” she said. “Our schools are still recovering from the cuts made under the previous administration.”
Reigelman said Gov. Wolf is urging the state’s congressional delegation “to carefully review the devastating cuts in this proposal and help stop them.”
Lead-paint elimination programs: The proposed budget gives an extra $20 million in funding to Department of Housing and Urban Development's program aimed at eliminating lead paint in low-income homes. Philadelphia, the country's poorest big city, has been struggling for some time with lead poisoning and its effect on children.
"For a number of years, we have seen a precipitous drop in funding for lead paint remediation. We need to get lead out of kids' houses so they don't get poisoned in the first place -- because once they have it, there is no medical cure," said Colleen McCauley. "So getting lead out of homes is the best way to work towards a permanent solution."
But with significant cuts proposed for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the agency that funds such remediation, McCauley said the extra money "doesn't feel like a win." Reducing funds for HUD puts low-income families at risk, she said -- "we see this as a sort of bait and switch."
Philadelphia's health commissioner, Thomas Farley, said it was too early to tell how the proposed budget will affect the lead poisoning prevention program, which has seen several cuts over the last few years.
"The city, as demonstrated by the ongoing work of the Lead Poisoning Advisory Group, continues to focus on this as a citywide priority," he said. "Any increase in federal funding would be welcome, but the proposed $20 million increase works out to about $50,000 for Philadelphia, if divided proportionally. This amount would not make up for previous cuts or other proposed cuts to public health funding."
Heroin and substance-abuse treatment programs: 900 people fatally overdosed in Philadelphia in 2016 -- more than triple the number of homicides in the city that year. About 80 percent of those deaths were attributed to opioids, and in December 2016, 35 people were killed in overdoses over a five-day span.
The budget outline calls for an additional $500 million to "expand opioid misuse prevention efforts and to increase access to treatment and recovery services."
Financial aid programs for college students. The proposed budget calls for a $9.2 billion cut to the Department of Education — a 13.5 percent reduction. Some of that savings would come from deep reductions to some financial aid programs for college students.
The need-based Supplemental Educational Opportunity grant program, which gives students up to $4,000 in financial aid for tuition and other needs, would be eliminated altogether, with the White House describing the move as simplifying financial aid programs. But that savings would not go into the Pell Grant program, which would receive no changes in funding.
Last school year, more than 96,000 college students in Pennsylvania and New Jersey received more than $51.2 million in Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant funding. (34,339 students received $15,155,452 in New Jersey; 61,757 students received $36,090,939 in Pennsylvania.)
The budget would also “significantly” reduce funding for Federal Work-Study, under which students work approved jobs and the federal government subsidizes students’ pay.
More than 58,000 students in Pennsylvania and New Jersey were awarded $71.6 million through work-study last school year, according to data from the Education Department. (12,625 students received $20,085,301 in NJ; 45,867 students received $51,515,382 in PA.)
Transportation projects in the region: Trump’s first foray into the Department of Transportation’s budget proposed a $16.2 billion discretionary budget, $2.4 billion, or 13 percent less than 2017's Department of Transportation budget.
Barry Seymour, the executive director of the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission noted the proposal was very big-picture and had few specific dollar amounts attached, making it difficult to be sure where the cuts would dig deepest, and how precisely the region could be affected. PennDOT relies on the federal government for $2.2 billion of its $8.3 billion budget. About $1.9 billion in federal money goes to the New Jersey DOT and NJ Transit in a $3.9 billion transportation capital budget.
If passed, the budget could be the death knell of two of the region’s highest profile transit projects, Seymour said, the light rail extension to King of Prussia and a rail line connecting Camden to Gloucester County. Those projects would likely depend on the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts Capital Investment Program, he said, and the budget proposal would limit that money to projects with existing full funding grant agreements.
The King of Prussia project, five miles of track connecting the Norristown High Speed Line to the King of Prussia mall and business district, could cost upward of $1.1 billion, and the rail service between Camden and Glassboro is anticipated to cost up to $2 billion. It isn’t clear how much of those projects would be funded with federal money, but typical would be 30 to 40 percent of the total cost, Seymour said. The budget proposes shifting the funding that had been provided by the FTA to local funding sources.
The budget proposal also calls for an end to Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery discretionary grants, competitive grants that have been a significant transit development tool in the region. The Philadelphia region is of the only places in the country to have TIGER grant applications granted every year. The money has paid for projects like the Schuylkill Banks boardwalk. In 2015 Philadelphia received $10.2 million from the program to improve pedestrian and bicycle access, and Randy LoBasso, of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, said losing the grants could affect efforts to make the city safer for people traveling without cars.
The federal budget proposal would also eliminate funding for Amtrak’s long distance train services. Rail service between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh likely wouldn’t be affected, as it is primarily funded with state money. The Northeast Corridor, Amtrak’s busiest service, which connects Philadelphia with the rest of the East Coast, operates profitably and the budget states the proposal would "allow Amtrak to focus on better managing its state-supported and Northeast Corridor train services," making it unclear how significant the effects could be to Philadelphia's Amtrak service.
The National Institutes of Health: Trump's proposed budget would cut funding for the National Institutes of Health, a major funder for Philadelphia's medical schools and research hospitals, by $5.8 billion or 19 percent.
At Penn, where NIH funding totaled $392 million in fiscal 2016, the proposed cut came as "quite a shock," said Susan Phillips, a Penn Medicine spokesperson and senior vice president. She said officials at the school were still reviewing the budget and expect that it will be much debated. "We are concerned," she said, "about the proposal's plan for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to be absorbed by the NIH. AHRQ has been a major funder of research focusing on strengthening quality in patient care."
She said Penn Medicine would be working with local lawmakers to "highlight the value of the research we do for our country and in support of the nation's position as a world leader in biomedical innovation."
Temple University's Katz School of Medicine received $95.1 million in NIH research grants last year. Jeremy Walter, a Temple spokesman, declined to comment on the budget.
The Trump administration document, which was short on details, also said it would eliminate $403 million health professions and nursing training programs that "lack evidence that they significantly improve the Nation's health workforce." It did not specify which programs it think lack such evidence. it said it would keep funding scholarships and loan repayments for students who agree to work in areas that don't have enough medical workers.
“Gutting health professions training programs in the face of an aging population experiencing an increase in chronic conditions is contrary to meeting the demand of providing high-quality health care that this nation deserves," said Julie Sochalski, associate dean for academic programs at Penn's School of Nursing. "This kind of cut would directly affect the future status of programs that have supported nursing students at Penn, and at nursing schools across the country.”
Jon Retzlaff, chief policy officer for the Philadelphia-based American Association for Cancer Research, said he was "astonished and dumbfounded" by the depth of the Trump cuts. He said they will reduce the chances that researchers can find funding for their work at a time when cancer researchers are making progress. "It's unfortunate because now is the time to be pressing the accelerator, not utilizing the parking brake," he said.
NIH funding was flat between 2003 and 2013, he said, forcing the department to operate efficiently.
"You have world-renowned institutions in Philadelphia that are reliant on federal funding and so this kind of proposal will set back the tremendous progress that those institutions are making."
He said AACR, which represents 37,000 researchers and patient advocates, will be lobbying lawmakers in September. "I don't think there's ever been a more important time for us to be bringing together the entire medical research community," he said.
Legal services for low-income Philadelphians: Philadelphia Legal Assistance (PLA) also faces an uncertain future in the wake of the proposed budget. The organization, which provides free legal services to low-income Philadelphians, receives 90% of its funding—$2.7 million—through the federal Legal Services Corporation, which would be eliminated under the new budget.
The remaining 10% of PLA's operating budget comes from other federal sources, including Community Development Block Grants, which would also be nixed under the proposed plan. (Community Legal Services, the other free legal aid organization in Philadelphia, does not receive funding from LSC.)
According to PLA Executive Director Anita Santos-Singh, there are roughly 700,000 Philadelphians who are eligible for PLA assistance. Last year, the PLA received requests for aid from 32,000 people. "Of those," Santos-Singh said, "we were able to provide assistance to 5,500."
Asked whether the PLA could continue to operate without funding from the Legal Services Corporation, Santos-Singh answered simply: "No."
Federal loans and grants that finance water systems: At the Department of Agriculture, Trump would kill the Water and Wastewater loan and grant program, for "a savings of $498 million from the 2017 annualized CR level." Water systems in rural communities should look for "private sector financing" aided by EPA state grants, such as the $20 million EPA Water Infrastructure program.
Locally, shares of American Water Works, of Voorhees, and Aqua America, of Bryn Mawr, two of the nation's largest for-profit water and sewer system owners, traded modestly lower Thursday morning.
Manufacturing assistance centers: Despite Trump's proposals to bring back U.S. manufacturing, the budget would kill federal funding for the Commerce Department's Manufacturing Extension Partnership program, which pays half the cost of manufacturing assistance centers -- which help businesses develop and sell products -- in Pennsylvania and other states, to save $124 million a year.
While Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris and other Trump manufacturing advisers have recommended more government aid to training and retraining skilled factory workers, Trump's budget summary "decreases Federal support for job training and employment service formula grants, shifting more responsibility for funding these services to States, localities, and employers" -- though it also encourages states to "expand apprenticeship, an evidence-based approach to preparing workers for jobs," without detailing how.
Arts funding in the Philadelphia region: Trump’s proposed budget would eliminate these agencies entirely. the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities and Institute of Museum and Library Sciences. Were this to come to pass, it would be enormously damaging to museums, libraries, historical agencies and performing arts groups in the city and region, leaders said.
Maud Lyon, president of the Great Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, says that since 2012, 98 Philadelphia organizations have received a total of $7.7 million from the NEA, and that the potential loss for the future would go beyond the obvious direct disappearance of funding.
Money from the NEA, NEH and IMLS often acts as seed funding for arts programs -- which they can leverage into funding from other sources, Lyon said. And federal funding helps under-served audiences access the arts, she said.
Local groups that receive NEA funding span all genres and sizes. The Philadelphia Orchestra was recently awarded a $75,000 NEA grant to support the work it does at Broad Street Ministry for a weekly songwriting/improvisation and listening class for guests, particularly for those experiencing trauma, and an additional $75,000 for various community concerts. The Philadelphia Chamber Music Society receives $15,000 annually.
The Free Library of Philadelphia recently received a $543,618 grant from IMLS to consolidate literacy help, language classes, computers for jobseekers, job training, and to help build credit to help overcome barriers for people seeking jobs. This particular grant is secure, but represents the kind of program that would be threatened if the IMLS were eliminated.
The NEA also administers the Arts and Artifacts Indemnity Program, a little-noticed but critical way for museums to fund insurance that allows for art loans nationally and internationally. Its fate is unclear. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has made good use of the program, receiving funding for several recent exhibitions, including Ink and Gold: The Art of Kano, International Pop, and its show on Michelangelo, Titian and Rubens.
Mann Center president and CEO Catherine M. Cahill said the arts center was preparing two grant proposals to the NEA for community-focused programs over the next two years. Now, she said, the Mann will have to wait and see if there is an NEA to which they can apply.
NEA spokeswoman Victoria Hutter said the agency was in wait-and-see mode about its survival. “We don’t know, and really can’t speculate,” she said. “This is the first step in a long process. We are continuing to do our work, and continue to process grants and commence panels and to carry on.” Any multi-year grants would be honored, she said.
Low-income Philadelphians who can’t afford to heat their homes: The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program would be eliminated under the proposed budget. It gives funds to residents who don’t make enough to pay electricity, gas or other heating bills. It also helps residents during emergencies – like when a tenant or homeowner’s heat or electricity gets shut off, or their furnace breaks. According to PECO’s website, 40,000 PECO customers got $17 million in LIHEAP funds in 2016.
PECO Communications Manager Ben Armstrong called LIHEAP "a vital program for our customers." Just last month, PECO employees attended the official 2017 "LIHEAP Action Day" in Washington D.C. in order to advocate for additional funding for the program.
Armstrong said the company was in the midst of reviewing the administration's budget proposal, which would cut the program entirely. The provisional budget called LIHEAP a "lower-impact program" and "unable to demonstrate strong performance outcomes."
Armstrong declined comment on any impact the proposed budget might have on customers currently supported by LIHEAP. "Right now it’d be premature to comment any further as it’s currently only proposed changes," he said.
The bankrupt: Under President Trump's proposed federal budget, it will cost more for Americans to go broke.
The proposal calls on the Justice Department to more than double bankruptcy-filing fee collections, to $289 million next year from around $140 million last year, "to ensure that those that use the bankruptcy court system pay for its oversight."
Community-development grants in Philadelphia: Trump’s proposed $6.2 billion cut to the Department of Housing and Urban Development was as bad as city agencies feared when the number was leaked last week.
Philadelphia’s Public Housing Authority gets 94 percent of its $371 million in annual funding from HUD and the funds have been decreasing for more than a decade. In 2002, according to city financial records, the city received $88 million from HUD. This year, it got $47 million, of which about $39 million was in Community Development Block Grants, and the rest for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program.
Trump’s proposed cuts include community development block grants as well as HOME, which the city has used to develop affordable housing.
As for other HUD programs identified for potential elimination, Philly received no funding from the Self-Help Ownership Opportunity Program. It did, however, receive $30 million in 2014 through the Choice Neighborhoods Program, and an additional $500,000 the year before that.
Some states choose to use part of their federal community development block grant funding to supplement Meals on Wheels, but that money is not a big piece of the meal program’s budget, said Jenny Bertolette, vice president of communications for Meals on Wheels America.
If Trump’s proposed budget “came to be, we’re hearing from our local programs that this would affect some of them,” Bertolette said.
(A bigger concern — and an unknown — is whether the Older Americans Act funding will be slashed. It provides about 35 percent of Meals on Wheels’ annual $1.4 billion in federal funding. The Department of Health and Human Services, which administers grants under the OAA, has been targeted for cuts by the Trump administration. The OAA provides almost half of the $64 million that Pennsylvania spends on Meals on Wheels, according to the national program.)
A spokesman for the city’s Planning and Development Department said Mayor Kenney's office would handle the response to Trump’s budget proposal. A spokesman for Kenney said the mayor’s offices was “still analyzing the impact” and expected to have statements on specific impacts next week.
WHYY: Philadelphia public broadcaster WHYY could lose about 7 percent of its annual budget, or $2.5 million, if President Trump succeeds in axing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, CEO William J. Marrazzo said on Thursday.
Trump proposed eliminating the taxpayer-funded corporation, which gives radio and television stations about $445 million a year.
"While I wish it weren't the case, I'm not surprised," Marrazzo said of Trump's proposal that now faces a fierce debate in Washington. "It concerns us."
WHYY employs 225 full- and part-time employees, including 65 in its newsroom. Its total budget, which is supported by donors, sponsors and federal funds, is about $35 million. WHYY's shows include Terry Gross' "Fresh Air."
Marrazzo said that the federal funds are earmarked two years in advance of when they are spent so the station would not see the cuts, if Congress approves them, until 2019. So it’s too early to talk about cutbacks, he said.
The last time that public television and radio stations dealt with losing their funds like this was in the 1990s when Newt Gingrich served as speaker of the House of Representatives, Marrazzo said. He handicapped losing the funds under Trump at "less than 50-50," based on his conversations with federal lawmakers.
The Environmental Protection Agency: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would be among the hardest hit of the federal agencies under the Trump administration’s budget blueprint for the fiscal year 2018 starting Oct. 1, with climate change programs a particular target. The blueprint proposes reducing EPA spending from the current $8.2 billion to $5.7 billion – a 31 percent reduction. The goal is to achieve “the President’s priority to ease the burden of unnecessary Federal regulations that impose significant costs for workers and consumers without justifiable environmental benefits.”
About 3,200 workers would lose their jobs and 50 EPA programs would be eliminated if Trump's plan passed Congress.
The proposal would kill the Obama administration’s signature Clean Power Plan, enacted in 2015 to reduce carbon pollution from power plants, and reframe policy toward renewable energy sources. Rather, the Trump administration says the cut will save $100 million under his new America First Energy Plan, which would reorient the EPA to “protect the air we breathe without unduly burdening the American economy.”
Further, it would also kill a long-standing cleanup effort of the Chesapeake Bay, of which Pennsylvania has long been a partner. The Susquehanna River, which flows through Pennsylvania, is a significant contributor of pollutants that dump into the Chesapeake estuary.
“This just makes no sense. We are in disbelief," Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker said in a statement. “The EPA’s role in this clean up is nothing less than fundamental. It’s not just important, it is critical. Eliminating the EPA Bay Program will slam the door on the Bay’s nascent recovery, a recovery which is still very fragile."
The Energy Star program, in place since 1992, would also be scrapped. The well-known, voluntary labeling program was designed to identify and promote energy-efficient products. The goal was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
At the local level, the new plan would essentially keep flat State Revolving Funds at $2.3 billion and seek to “avoid duplication of programs.” It would eliminate or “substantially” reduce “state environmental activities that go beyond EPA’s statutory requirements.”
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has previously said brownfield and superfund sites would be a priority. The new blueprint, “reins in Superfund administrative costs and emphasizes efficiency efforts by funding the Hazardous Substance Superfund Account at $762 million,” – or $330 million less than the current budget.
State officials in New Jersey and Pennsylvania were not immediately available to comment on how the blueprint will impact their Department of Environmental Protection budgets.
Local emergency-preparedness efforts: Trump’s budget outline proposes $667 million in cuts to state and local grants, including two programs the region relies on heavily to prepare itself in the event of an emergency, Samantha Phillips, director of emergency management in Philadelphia said.
In recent years the grant money from those programs also allowed the city's OEM to grow its staff in time for two major events in Philadelphia -- the papal visit and the Democratic National Convention -- and to upgrade its central hub known as the emergency operations center in 2012.
It paid for training for the Philadelphia bomb squad and surrounding county bomb squads. It allowed the creation of a five-county “major incidents response team” and supported search and rescue and special operations for the fire department. The money also paid for stockpiling prophylaxis, antibiotics and other preventative medicines, to curb the spread of disease in case of a bio-attack.
The proposal would slash funding to the Homeland Security Grant Program and a pre-disaster mitigation program, which combined last year gave $14 million to the region for training, equipment and advancements in emergency response technologies, Phillips said.
Philadelphia received about 40 percent of that funding with the remainder going to Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware and Chester counties.
Phillips called the cuts -- if they go through -- “catastrophic” for the region. The homeland security grant money is allocated based on a city’s risk factors. Philadelphia is the fifth largest city but seventh on the list in terms of risk.
“These cuts are really scary because without a doubt any cut is going to be a cut to us,” Phillips said. “I think the question is, how bad would that cut be?”
( Staff writers Jonathan Tamari, Jonathan Lai, Bob Fernandez, Alfred Lubrano, Jason Nark, David Murrell, Joseph DiStefano, Frank Kummer, Barbara Laker, Wendy Ruderman, Peter Dobrin, Jason Laughlin, Marie McCullough, Julia Terruso, Martha Woodall, and Stacey Burling contributed to this report.)