President Donald Trump late Wednesday released his first proposed budget. In broad strokes, the spending plan bumps up spending for defense, homeland security, and veterans, and cuts pretty much everything else. The EPA would suffer the largest cuts, at 31 percent, while NASA would only see a 1 percent cut (I guess if we’re going to completely befoul this planet, we better not stop exploring ways to get to a new one).
The president’s budget is sure to be the subject of great debate in Congress, so none of the spending proposals are even close to final. But they are a blueprint for Trump’s priorities, and are giving local leaders the best look yet at what a Trump administration might mean for the region.
Here’s a round up of possible impacts the spending plan would have on Seattle, based on public statements by local officials and other news reports. We’ll update as more come along.
1. Light rail faces cuts. According to Mike Lindblom over at the Times, both light rail expansions from Northgate to Lynnwood and from Angle Lake to Federal Way would lose a large amount of federal support under the plan. Specifically, Sound Transit was banking on about $600 million in federal funds for the Lynnwood Link and $499 million for the Federal Way expansion. The money was going to come in the form of Federal Transit Administration grants, which Trump’s budget eliminates.
2. Housing faces cuts. King County Budget Chair Dave Upthegrove said through a press representative that the county was assuming it would receive about $50 million in federal grants for its Housing and Community Development plan. That includes $5.5 million in Community Development Block grants, which Trump’s budget completely eliminates. In a statement, Mayor Ed Murray also drew attention to housing grant program cuts, saying they put lives at risk. In Seattle, the grant program helps fund housing programs for the homeless and low-income neighborhoods, among other things. The precise impact of these cuts are not yet known, but it seems fairly clear that they would work against Seattle’s efforts to house its estimated 3,000 homeless.
3. Ag and small businesses get dinged. U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, who represents Tacoma and the Olympic Peninsula, criticized cuts to the Small Business Administration and the Department of Agriculture’s rural ag extension offices.
4. Public media could take a hit. Trump’s budget would eliminate funding for the Corporation of Public Broadcasting. David Kroman at Crosscut—whose parent company Cascade Public Media gets 10 percent of its annual funding from CPB—has a rundown of how various media outlets would be affected. The CPB cut prompted Councilmember Tim Burgess to revive his call for Seattle to create a Center for Public Media at Seattle Center.
5. There’d be less money for cancer research at Fred Hutch. Per GeekWire, the president of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center said a 20 percent cut to the National Institute of Health would put their work at risk. “These proposed cuts are indefensible. Patients’ lives are at stake,” Dr. Gary Gilliland said.
6. There’d be zero dollars for Puget Sound. When the draft budget proposal came out on March 2, the word on the street was that EPA funding for cleanup and restoration projects in Puget Sound would be slashed by 93 percent. According to a press release from the Washington Environmental Council, that number has now become 100 percent. “These funding cuts couldn’t come at a worse time for Washington,” said Mindy Roberts, WEC’s Puget Sound Program Director, in a statement. “After decades of neglect, Puget Sound has just begun to recover.”
There will be more. So, so much more. But, hey, with Washington ranking as the seventh largest recipient of federal defense spending ($12.6 billion in 2010), maybe we’ll all get jobs riding nukes and not have to worry about light rail.