Editorial: A blow to our communities

Under the guise of federalism, President Donald Trump’s spending plan is a severe blow to states and communities. The purpose: to finance a massive increase of the defense budget of $54 billion.

With the false argument that they have not been successful and that they would best be managed at the local and state levels, the budget eliminates and cuts funding for programs that have tended to the needs of the American people for decades.

In reality, these funds are being reallocated to pay for the expensive construction of a wall on the southern border and an unnecessary arms build-up.

The best example is the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG), a federal fund crucial to local development for the last 42 years. Managed through the Department of Housing, the program has an annual budget of $3 billion, reaches nearly 1,200 cities and states, and created 17,545 jobs in 2016.
Last year, an estimated 74,000 homes received housing assistance, and over 9 million people in the country benefited from this investment.

The CDBG program provides for much more than affordable housing. Its funds allow for improvements to public facilities such as parks, and for daycare centers, neighborhood rehabilitation and assistance for people with disabilities.

This is just one of the many programs and entities whose elimination will hurt municipalities and states on areas ranging from transportation to public safety. Others include the Economic Development Administration, the Community Services Program, the Energy Assistance Program, the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, and counterterrorism and pre-disaster mitigation programs. In addition, $500 million for public transportation will disappear.

Trump’s proposal is a rearrangement of long-term priorities. In practice, it means that three years without the CBDG investment, for instance, are almost equivalent to the cost one of the war ships that the president wants to buy to increase the U.S. float from 274 to 350, not counting delays and extra expenses.

Fortunately, this is only the beginning of a long budgetary negotiation in which Congress will have the last word approving funding for each federal agency. Impact on cities and states may be mitigated, but the priorities are set.