Trump budget would drain millions out of Maine’s economy; from agriculture to workforce development
President Trump’s budget proposal, unveiled on Thursday, would have dramatic and detrimental effects on Mainers across the state, as it eliminates or reduces federal spending on a number of critical programs that help Maine build a strong economy and vibrant, thriving communities. Nearly every department of the federal government faces a reduction in its budget, which translates to across-the-board impacts at the state level, from protecting Maine’s unique natural environment, to repairing our roads, and helping our neighbors afford heating fuel.
Maine is a net receiver of federal monies, meaning that Maine receives more money from the federal government than Mainers contribute in federal taxes. Every one of the $11.7 billion federal dollars that is brought into the state boosts our economy, and helps pay for essential benefits and services that the state could not afford to finance on its own. Federal money accounts for almost 30% of Maine’s Gross Domestic Product, and flows to individuals, in the form of benefits for individuals such as Social Security, to federal contractors and their employees, and to the state itself for education, environmental protection, health care, and other programs and services. Federal government grants fund approximately one-third of the state budget . Any changes to federal programs therefore have a pronounced effect on the economy of state government, on local businesses, and on Maine families. And the Trump budget contains a lot of changes.
In this budget, President Trump follows up on his proposals to cut health care by advocating for dramatically more spending on defense and national security. A large package of federal tax cuts for the wealthy is also on his agenda. To pay for all this, Trump proposes deep cuts in the discretionary budgets of most departments (the budget leaves non-discretionary spending on Social Security, Medicare intact). In addition to endangering the 14,000 federal jobs in Maine, the Trump budget defunds entire programs, including many that provide assistance to the states. Of particular note to Mainers, the Trump budget would eliminate:
- The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps 45,000 Maine families afford heating fuel every year, at a value of $39 million, as well as the Weatherization Assistance Program, worth $3 million.
- Community Development Block Grants, from which Maine received $20 million in 2016. For more than 40 years, these grants have helped fund affordable housing projects, after-school centers, work-training programs, and other projects in communities across the state.
- TIGER infrastructure grants for states, which have recently funded bridges, railways, and ports across the state, at a value of $77 million between 2014 and 2016.
- Coastal and Marine Management and Sea Grant programs, which provided $5 million in 2016 for research critical to Maine’s fishing industry maritime resources.
- The National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, which supports cultural projects in Maine with $4 million annually.
The Trump budget cuts the Environmental Protection Agency, which spends $42 million in Maine, by 30%, causing alarm about public health and safety, economically vital natural resource, and areas of natural beauty in Maine that draw tourists to the state. The president’s budget proposes unspecified reductions in student aid, in the form of federal work study (worth $8 million to working college students in Maine), and cuts to programs that help seniors develop new workplace skills. The Trump budget even cuts funds for less well-known programs like $5 million of USAID Maine-based organizations use for operations overseas, and state department Education and Cultural Exchange funding that provides learning opportunities for Mainers. The budget slashes $1.5 million in science education funding from NASA for Maine students.
President Trump’s budget would deal a body-blow to Maine’s economy through the likely loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal money, impacting all sectors of the economy. At a time when Governor LePage proposes to give away millions in tax breaks for the wealthy at the expense of the majority of Mainers, President Trump is copying the governor’s playbook. His budget hollows-out federal programs in disregard of the state-federal compact, to pay for tax breaks for the wealthiest. Mainers have seen this strategy in action before, and need to let their federal representatives know that it doesn’t work, and that we won’t stand for it.
Summary of federal spending in Maine, FY2016
|Agency||Funds Awarded||Proposed Change to federal budget|
|Social Security Administration||$4,978,968,797||+0.2%|
|Department of Health and Human Services||$2,471,725,684||-18%*|
|Department of Defense||$1,719,282,164||+9%|
|Department of Veterans Affairs||$1,133,131,896||+6%|
|Department of Education||$305,718,931||-14%|
|Department of Transportation||$279,557,905||-13%|
|Department of Agriculture||$250,629,404||-21%|
|Department of Housing and Urban Development||$158,043,043||-13%|
|Department of Labor||$62,734,366||-21%|
|Railroad Retirement Board||$51,719,031||(not mentioned in budget)|
|Department of the Interior||$47,184,369||-12%|
|Environmental Protection Agency||$42,653,913||-31%|
|Department of Justice||$33,238,246||-4%|
|Department of Homeland Security||$28,837,095||7%|
|Department of Commerce||$20,234,483||-16%|
|National Science Foundation||$18,347,066||(not mentioned in budget)|
|Department of Energy||$13,319,180||-6%|
|National Aeronautics and Space Administration||$13,011,992||-1%|
|General Services Administration||$7,682,179||+0.3%|
|Small Business Administration||$6,453,389||-5%|
|Export-Import Bank of the U.S.||$4,227,500||(not mentioned in budget)|
|National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities||$4,208,477||-100%|
|Corporation for National and Community Service||$3,947,410||-100%|
|Department of State||$1,999,817||-29%|
|Department of the Treasury||$264,111||-4%|
|Other agencies||$695,263||(not mentioned in budget)|
* A significant portion of the Health and Human Services spending in Maine includes Medicaid and Medicare services which are not impacted by the budget.
The budget “blueprint” released Thursday does not enumerate funding for a selection of federal government agencies.
Source: USA Spending.gov.