Colorado Impact of Proposed Federal Budget

In late May, President Trump released his proposed $4.1 trillion federal budget for 2018. The budget slashes spending on domestic programs from social safety net programs, education, science and research, and the arts.
It includes a proposed 10% increase in defense spending with more than half of the increase in border security funds being directed toward the construction of a “new and replacement” border wall.

KGNU is looking at the local impact of the proposed budget on different areas of society.

A proposed 13.5% decrease in federal spending on education – from $68.2 billion in 2017 to $59 billion in 2018.
U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has defended the proposed $9 billion funding reduction, which would cut teacher training, vocational training and wrap around programs.
Sarah LaCour, a researcher with the School of Education at CU Boulder says much of the proposed budget, shifts funds away from public education into charter schools and other choice programs. “We knew going in that under DeVos, choice and vouchers were going to be heavily pushed and in fact we see that to the tune of about $1.4 billion in the budget. The joke is that they’re going to build excellent private schools but they’re going to have public  schools pay for them. So the cuts of around $9.2 billion to public education is just terrifying when we know that schools are already underfunded.”

LaCour says that school choice came about as a response to  school desegregation and became a tool for white parents to move their children to white-only schools.  “In fact many places where we see school choice, we see that is the pattern, that schools become increasingly segregated along racial and soci0-economic lines.”  Choice is itself not an equal thing as certain families can avail of choices more than others.   “The access to the information about schools requires a lot of social capital from parents. Many of the choice schools don’t provide things like transportation. So parents who can’t take the time and don’t have the resources to transport their children to and from school, really don’t have the choice of sending their children to a given school.”

LaCour says many charter schools “counsel out” students who have special needs or other challenges “because those students are going to be more expensive to educate and take more time. So they would prefer to have more students who are easier to push along through the grades.”

Ultimately, lower-income students will bear the brunt of the budget cuts.  The budget proposes $4 billion in cuts to literacy programs, to programs for students with limited English proficiency and for wrap around child care programs. The 21st Century Schools program would be eliminated under the budget. That program provides academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools.

“Those with the fewest resources already are the ones who absolutely lose out, so low-income families, their children lose out. And often and increasingly we’re seeing that folks who are working to move into middle class, are finding that that is a steeper and steeper climb.”


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The proposed budget would eliminate the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which provides funding to museums and libraries across the country through formula and competitive grant awards. IMLS’s funding supplements local, State, and private funds, which provide the vast majority of funding to museums and libraries.

David Farnan, Director of the Boulder Public Library, says that the elimination of federal funding will not impact Boulder, which relies primarily on local sales tax for funding, but it could have a huge impact across Colorado.

” The state library is primarily the place where the funds are distributed through the federal funding and then they’re distributed mostly to rural libraries in Colorado.  And it’s mostly been around technology and broadband, access to broadband which is critical in those communities.  Libraries have taken up the mantel, I don’t know when…20 years ago, of providing public computing and in a city like Boulder it’s not as important, where 93% of households have high speed internet access. In rural communities it’s huge and a lot of younger people and people with lower incomes don’t have access to service providers at home, so getting it at their library is crucial.”  

The American Library Association released a statement earlier this year around eliminating federal funding to libraries, calling it “counterproductive and short-sighted.”

“The Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funded through IMLS is the primary annual source of funding for libraries in the federal budget. IMLS distributes the majority of LSTA funds to every state in the nation according to a population-based formula. Each state library determines how to best spend its allocated federal funds, which must be matched at the state level. The range of services provided to millions of Americans through LSTA grants is matched only by the creativity of the libraries that receive them: veterans transitioning to civilian life, small businesses seeking to expand their business online, summer reading programs, resources for blind and hearing-impaired patrons, resume writing and job skills workshops and computer coding courses to teach youth 21st century job skills.

“America’s more than 120,000 public, school, college and university and many other libraries are not piles of archived books. They’re trusted centers for education, employment, entrepreneurship and free inquiry at the core of communities in every state in the country – and in every Congressional district. And they’re staffed by the original search engines: skilled and engaged librarians.”

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Flood Plain Mapping:
The proposed budget would eliminate all federal funding for the Flood Hazard Mapping And Risk Analysis Program.
Erin S. Cooper, a Floodplain Specialist with the Boulder County Transportation Dept. says the county has availed of this program which she says is a huge resource.

“A lot of the river and water ways throughout the county were hit pretty hard in the 2013 floods and this mapping effort has given us the opportunity to update maps that haven’t been touched since the 1980s, and so the data associated with those maps is fairly out of date, and so the technology advances, the additional data that’s available to us over those last couple of decades has been really valuable to create flood plain modelling and as a result mapping, that gives people a better understanding of the flood risk to their properties.”

While the proposed federal budget calls for the elimination of all federal funding for the program, Cooper says that doesn’t necessarily mean the program itself will go away. “It just means that another sources of funding will need to be found to keep the program going at the same speed that it’s going right now. So with less funding for the Flood Hazard Mapping And Risk Analysis Program, things might just start moving a little slower and FEMA regions and states might have to decide how to scale back different projects, different mapping efforts, things like that.”


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