Tomas Talamante, Rashad Young, Matt Brown hold a news conference on March 20 at the Wilson Building on the impact of President Trump's proposed budget. (Lateef Mangum)
**FILE** From left: Tomas Talamante, Rashad Young and Matt Brown hold a news conference on March 20, 2017, at the Wilson Building on the impact of President Trump's proposed budget. (Lateef Mangum)

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President Trump says he wants to “make America great again.”

But given the budget outline for fiscal year 2018 (FY18) that he recently released, and after an initial review by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and City Administrator Rashad Young, it looks like life for many District residents, particularly youth, the poor and those hoping to find affordable housing, won’t be so “great.”

Trump’s “skinny budget,” that is, an outline as opposed to the traditional line item budget, would cost D.C. at least $103 million and a loss of 120 jobs in the public sector. In addition, it would significantly impact affordable housing and other social services, much to the chagrin of the city’s low-income residents who have yet to experience the economic boost currently enjoyed by others.

The estimate in lost dollars totals some 9.6 percent of the $1.07 billion in non-Medicaid federal funding that D.C. would get this year — but does not include reductions to health-spending that may occur if or when the GOP repeals the Affordable Care Act.

Young says that some cuts can already be calculated, not because of the dollar amounts within Trump’s proposed budget but because of the language.

“When we see ‘eliminate’ we know we can take those anticipated dollars out of our budget,” he said during a press conference on Monday, March 20. “We recognize that this is only a proposal and we will continue with our own budget process in the coming weeks. Still, we believe that Mr. Trump’s proposal is inconsistent with the District’s values, especially affordable housing.”

Young added that Bowser will be meeting with Trump’s budget officials, including Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, in the coming weeks during which time she will plead the city’s case and reiterate how many of his proposed cuts would negatively impact District residents and services.

“It’s still very early as we don’t expect to see Trump’s full proposal until May. But we have to be proactive and we have to express our concerns now,” Young added.

He noted that Congress has until October 1 to approve the final budget when the next fiscal year begins.

“Residents need to understand the impact and the consequences that the President’s budget, at least in its current form, would have,” Young said. “But based on his ‘non-specifics,’ we can only discern those changes that would hit us hardest, like his plan to totally eliminate federally-developed block grants.”

“It looks like he wants to get rid of the Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency — that’s something for which we cannot tally an amount. But the budget doesn’t bode well for our minority business owners or those who want to start up their own businesses. Further, it would compromise the long-term vitality of the District’s minority business community.”

Cuts would significantly hit housing, the Environmental Protection Agency, healthcare, the arts and the State Department.

Specifically, the budget includes a $4 million reduction to HOME grants facilitated by the DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) as well as community development block grants. Both grants support DHCD’s efforts to secure affordable housing for District residents.

Additionally, the budget outline does not include any figures for several key programs: the Supplement Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicare or Medicaid. Nor does it include the District’s federal payment, which includes critical federal funding for programs and agencies such as D.C. Public Schools, D.C. Public Charter Schools, the D.C. Tuition Assistance Grant, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, emergency planning, the presidential inauguration and HIV/AIDS prevention.

Bowser said she has keen concerns about Trump’s initial budget outline.

“By making cuts to programs that support basic needs like housing and healthcare, this budget will force our city to make tough choices about programs that not only promote growth, but enable us to support our most vulnerable residents,” she said. “As we continue analyzing the budget and advocating for programs that move our city and country forward, my Administration will work with the community and our partners on the Council to promote and defend DC’s values.”

Young agreed with the mayor.

“As outlined, President Trump’s budget would undermine much of the progress we have made in Washington, D.C., over the past two years,” Young added, saying that it would be very difficult to keep the city’s commitment to “expanding prosperity for all D.C. residents.”

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents in their struggles with Alzheimer’s,...

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