4:55 AM / Sunday March 26, 2023

2 Jun 2017

The Unkindest Cuts

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June 2, 2017 Category: Local Posted by:

ABOVE CARTOON:  RJ Matson, Roll Call

When President Donald Trump unveiled the first budget proposal of his presidency, he showed everyone exactly what they’d have to lose.

By Denise Clay

During the 2016 Presidential Race, then-Republican nominee Donald Trump took to a microphone in Detroit and asked America in general, and at the time the Black community in particular, “What in the hell do you have to lose?!” as a means of asking for their votes.

When Budget Director Mick Mulvaney unveiled President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget, the country in general, and Philadelphia in particular, found out that the answer to that question just might be “a whole lot”.

With the exception of the Veterans Administration, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense, every department in the Federal Government is looking at a cut.

Education? Cut by $9.2 billion.

Department of Health and Human Services? Cut by $15.1 billion.

Need a Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program grant so you can stay warm this winter? Good luck with that.

Need financial aid so that you can pay for those classes at Temple University that you need to move up at your job or the student loan forgiveness that allows you to eat, have a roof over your head, and be a good teacher at the same time? All that stuff’s gone.

Enjoy being able to take your child to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia when he or she gets injured doing the stuff kids do? If this budget passes, that’s gone as well.

While there is some good news for Philadelphians in this budget — for example, the Department of Defense, the city’s largest federal employer with nearly 7,500 employees, will get some of the Department’s $54 billion increase—the bad news is kind of hard to ignore for a city with a 28 percent poverty rate.

Cartoon: Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News

“President Trump’s budget makes achieving the American dream impossible for children born into poverty or the middle class,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement. “It makes college even more expensive by cutting funding for work-study programs and eliminating student debt forgiveness. This budget makes healthcare and other basic necessities, like healthy food, inaccessible to Philadelphia’s most vulnerable children.”

“This budget proposal is bad for Philadelphia and bad for our fellow Pennsylvanians,” Kenney continued.

While some members of the House and Senate have pronounced the proposed budget dead in the water because of some of the cuts in programs like Medicaid contained within it, enough of it reflects current Republican thinking to have a shot at passage.

For this reason, the SUN will be taking the next two editions to look at the 2018 Federal Budget as it’s currently proposed and what that means for the City of Philadelphia and Philadelphians themselves.

We’ll be talking with public officials, community groups and others to find out their views on the budget, and how they intend to help those who could bear the brunt of it.

For example, let’s look at the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

PHA is the nation’s fourth largest housing authority, with a budget of $371 million. It serves 81,000 people, including 4,000 in scattered site residences, 16,000 in the Housing Choice voucher program, and the residents of 50 housing developments. It’s the Commonwealth’s largest landlord.

Over the years, the amount of money PHA has gotten from HUD has gone down. Last year, it got $47 million from the federal agency, $39 million of which came in the form of Community Development Block Grants.

As part of the budget, the $3 billion that made up the CDBG program is on the chopping block, which means that the programs covered by these grants are going to have problems staying afloat.

Also, some of PHA’s building plans would have to be put on indefinite hold.

Next week, we’ll be looking at the impact of the budget on the School District of Philadelphia and the Department of Health.

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