Fed­eral, lo­cal agen­cies brace for spend­ing cuts in Trump bud­get

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Christo­pher N. Osher and Danika Worthington

Fed­eral, state and lo­cal agen­cies across Colorado on Thurs­day braced for deep spend­ing cuts pro­posed in Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s bud­get. Po­ten­tial im­pacts ranged from re­duc­tions in re­search grants to uni­ver­si­ties and lab­o­ra­to­ries to re­duced pub­lic broad­cast pro­gram­ming to a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar hit to hous­ing and com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment pro­grams.

Gov. John Hick­en­looper on Thurs­day asked key staffers to reach out to U.S. Sens. Cory Gard­ner and Michael Ben­net to as­sess how Colorado would fare un­der Trump’s pro­posed bud­get. Hick­en­looper also di­rected all state agen­cies to as­sess how they would be

af­fected by the bud­get plan, which is likely to un­dergo sig­nif­i­cant change when Congress takes it up, said his spokes­woman, Jacque Mont­gomery.

“The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s bud­get blueprint poses some se­ri­ous chal­lenges for com­mu­ni­ties across Colorado,” Hick­en­looper said in a pre­pared state­ment. “We have di­rected our state agen­cies to im­me­di­ately be­gin re­view­ing how these pro­posed cuts might im­pact Coloradans. We have also be­gun dis­cus­sions with mem­bers of Colorado’s Con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion to en­sure that Colorado’s val­ues and pri­or­i­ties are pro­tected. Mov­ing for­ward, it will be im­per­a­tive that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion pro­vides more de­tail and in­for­ma­tion about the na­ture and scope of the pro­posed plan.”

Trump is propos­ing deep cuts in dis­cre­tionary spend­ing for agen­cies such as the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, while other ar­eas, such as the mil­i­tary, would see large in­creases.

La­bor sta­tis­tics show that Colorado has a higher per­cent­age of fed­eral em­ploy­ment than some of its neigh­bors, such as Kansas and Ne­braska, but lower than Wyoming and New Mex­ico. Ac­cord­ing to 2013 sta­tis­tics, nearly 56,000 peo­ple in Colorado work for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, or 2.3 per­cent of the state’s to­tal em­ploy­ment. Much of that em­ploy­ment is clus­tered in Colorado Springs, with a heavy mil­i­tary pres­ence, a sec­tor that will see growth un­der Trump’s pro­posed bud­get.

Colorado has about 37,000 ac­tive mem­bers of the mil­i­tary. The agency with the largest share of the fed­eral work­force in the state is the In­te­rior Depart­ment, which po­ten­tially faces a 12 per­cent re­duc­tion and has nearly 7,000 em­ploy­ees here. The next high­est is the Air Force, with about 6,200 civil­ian em­ploy­ees.

Here’s a look at where cuts could hit hard­est:

Hous­ing and com­mu­nity funds

Trump has pro­posed elim­i­nat- ing Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Block Grant funds that com­mu­ni­ties across the state rely on to fi­nance com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment ac­tiv­i­ties.

The state an­nu­ally re­ceives about $34 mil­lion in such grants, most of which go to lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. Of that amount, $8.5 mil­lion goes di­rectly to the Colorado Depart­ment of Lo­cal Af­fairs for dis­per­sal. The depart­ment said Trump’s bud­get also pro­posed get­ting rid of $13.2 mil­lion in hous­ing aid the agency re­ceives an­nu­ally.

Irv Hal­ter, di­rec­tor of lo­cal af­fairs, held a meet­ing this week to warn his staff to gird for a bru­tal bud­get year, given Trump’s pri­or­i­ties.

“We don’t have any con­trol,” said DOLA spokes­woman Denise Stepto. “We are fo­cus­ing on what we can con­tinue to do. We’re look­ing at what’s go­ing to be im­pacted, and we’re do­ing an anal­y­sis to de­cide how to be nim­ble.”

Pub­lic uni­ver­si­ties

The Univer­sity of Colorado would be stung by the pro­posed bud­get cuts through re­duced re­search fund­ing, school of­fi­cials said. Those losses would rip­ple through­out the state’s econ­omy.

Nearly two-thirds of CU’s re­search fund­ing for the fis­cal year that ended last June — $602 mil­lion of a record $924 mil­lion to­tal — came from fed­eral agen­cies, with about half com­ing from the Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices, said Ken McCon­nel­logue, spokesman for the CU sys­tem.

That agency would be look­ing at an 18 per­cent cut un­der the pro­posed bud­get.

CU re­ceives about $85 mil­lion from the Na­tional Sci­ence Foun­da­tion, which isn’t specif­i­cally men­tioned in the pro­posed bud­get but could be in­cluded among un­named agen­cies in line to see fund­ing slashed. The univer­sity also gets more NASA re­search fund­ing, about $80 mil­lion, than any pub­lic univer­sity in the coun­try. The space agency would see a rel­a­tively small 1 per­cent re­duc­tion in its bud­get.

Re­search fund­ing also flows to the univer­sity from the de­part­ments of En­ergy, Com­merce and Ed­u­ca­tion, which are slated to see bud­get re­duc­tions of 6, 16 and 14 per­cent, re­spec­tively. Money also comes from the Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs, which would see a 6 per­cent rise in fund­ing.

“That $924 mil­lion we get ob­vi­ously has a sub­stan­tial eco­nomic im­pact on Colorado,” McCon­nel­logue said. “That’s a lot of money that goes for not only the re­search, but for the in­fra­struc­ture and an­cil­lary jobs it cre­ates. So it re­ally would have a rip­ple ef­fect not only on our univer­sity, but on our state’s econ­omy.”

At Colorado State Univer­sity, about 70 per­cent of the school’s re­search ex­pen­di­tures came from fed­eral sources — $232 mil­lion of a to­tal $332 mil­lion in the last fis­cal year.

Sci­ence and re­search

Pro­posed cuts to agen­cies that fund sev­eral re­search or­ga­ni­za­tions have caused an out­cry in Colorado’s sci­en­tific com­mu­nity, one go­ing as far as to call the cuts “in­de­fen­si­ble.”

Cli­mate sci­en­tists said the cuts would elim­i­nate vi­tal re­search the pub­lic re­lies on to pre­pare for and re­spond to weather emer­gen­cies.

“Staffing cuts that would have to hap­pen born of the bud­get cuts would put in­cred­i­bly smart peo­ple out of work and their projects

Den­ver In­ter­na­tional Air­port could feel an im­pact from Pres­i­dent Trump’s pro­posed bud­get. An ini­tia­tive that sub­si­dizes air routes to small air­ports could be at risk. Joe Amon, Den­ver Post file

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.