On Thursday, President Trump released his so-called “skinny” budget, which is a blueprint for his fiscal year 2018 budget proposal.  The budget largely focused on spending reductions to domestic spending, as the President had earlier announced his intent to shift $54 billion in spending on domestic agencies to defense spending.  There were several provisions of interest for RCRC counties, although there were very few details provided in the budget document.  

Some of the highlights include:

Department of Interior

  • Supports counties through discretionary funding for the Federal Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program at a reduced level, but in line with average funding for Federal PILT over the past decade;
  • Attempts to ensure that National Park Service assets are preserved for future generations by increasing investment in deferred maintenance projects.  Reduces funds for other DOI construction and major maintenance programs, which can rely on existing resources for 2018; and,
  • Invests over $1 billion in safe, reliable, and efficient management of water resources throughout the western United States.

Department of Agriculture

  • Fully funds wildland fire preparedness and suppression activities at $2.4 billion, 100 percent of the 10-year average for suppression operations; and,
  • Reduces funding for lower priority activities in the National Forest System, such as major new Federal land acquisition; instead, the Budget focuses on maintaining existing forests and grasslands.

Department of Transportation

  • Eliminates funding for the Essential Air Service (EAS) program, which was originally established as a temporary program nearly 40 years ago to provide subsidized commercial air service to rural airports; and,
  • Eliminates funding for the TIGER discretionary grant program, which awards grants to projects that are generally eligible for funding under existing surface transportation formula programs, cutting $499 million from the 2017 annualized CR level.

Department of Housing and Urban Development

  • Eliminates funding for the Community Development Block Grant program, cutting $3 billion.

The budget blueprint is the first step that will continue over the coming months, as Congress takes the President’s proposal and begins drafting its own budget and appropriations bills.  That is a process that will begin in May and continue through the remainder of the year.