Kilmer weighs in on President Trump’s budget proposal

Congressman Derek Kilmer, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, called President Donald Trump’s proposed budget “irresponsible and unserious” and says the cuts proposed in the budget would be harmful to rural Washington in particular.

“It’s irresponsible because of the damage it would do to the folks I represent and to our economy,” said Kilmer. “I’m all about jobs. But the Trump budget would hurt our ability to prepare folks for the workforce — cutting financial aid, job training programs and funding to help kids make it to graduation.”

The president’s budget would cut job training and employment service programs at the Department of Labor by 35 percent, according to Kilmer, who says that would result in a loss of 140,000 training slots and an estimated 5million to 7 million individuals losing access to employment services, such as career counseling and case management. If that 35 percent cut is applied to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act grants to states, it would mean the loss of services for 2.7 million workers. Its programs serve workers who have lost their jobs as a result of layoffs, low-skilled and disadvantaged adults and at-risk and out-of-school youth by providing employment and training services to compete in the 21st century economy.

The proposed budget would eliminate the rural water and waste program, which provides loans and grants to small rural communities. Last year, $1.7 billion was provided to more than 600 communities to help them provide clean water. Washington communities received more than $15.5 million to help with water treatment.

“The 3,200 people in our region who work in the shellfish industry will be impacted by cuts to Puget Sound funding and clean water programs,” said Kilmer. “Folks on the Olympic Peninsula would be hurt by cuts to the rural ag extension office and by the complete elimination of funding for coastal assistance and support for small, rural airports that are important to our economy.”

The proposed budget would eliminate Low Income Home Energy Assistance funding, resulting in the loss of home heating and cooling assistance to 6.8 million low-income households nationwide, including vulnerable populations such as the elderly, disabled and young children, said Kilmer.

As part of a 16 percent reduction to the Department of Commerce’s budget, the Trump administration is proposing sharp cuts to climate-change and ocean research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, according to Kilmer. For instance, the budget proposes a cut of $250 million from coastal research programs that ready communities for rising seas and worsening storms.

The proposal would increase funding to Department of Homeland Security by 7 percent. Kilmer says this money primarily goes toward big boosts in spending on border and immigration enforcement — for a border wall, for 500 new Border Patrol agents and 1,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, but cuts $667 million from grant programs to state and local agencies, including pre-disaster mitigation grants and counter-terrorism funding.

President Trump’s budget would cut the Department of Education by 13 percent and completely eliminate the 21st Century Community Learning Center program, said Kilmer. This program provides funding to approximately 9,500 centers, serving more than a million students through before- and after-school and summer school programs aimed at boosting academic outcomes. The program also helps working families feel secure knowing that their children are exposed to enrichment activities, allowing them to be more productive at work and miss fewer days. Washington schools have received $18,057,689 in program funds in the past.

Kilmer added, “The Trump budget is unserious. It relies on gimmicks — giving a bunch of tax breaks to special interests and the rich and making absolutely no progress in the effort to address our long-term fiscal challenges as a country. I would encourage the president to go back to the drawing board. As Vice Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee I’m going to fight against this proposal and work for a responsible budget that actually addresses our deficit and provides stability for working Americans and their families.”