Executive on President Trump’s proposed budget: An assault on the environment, economy and mobility of King County

  • Written by Woodinville Weekly Staff

Under the budget blueprint released last week by President Trump, King County residents would have fewer transit options, and fewer housing options for people who earn a lower income, and fewer supports for those most in need of human services.

“This is what happens when rhetoric becomes reality,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “Given the hateful and wrongheaded ideas of this president, it’s no real surprise that his first proposed budget is an assault on the environment, economy and mobility of King County, and on the most vulnerable among us. Nonetheless, the depravity of this proposal is shocking. I will team with our Congressional delegation and state leaders to fight these vicious cuts and restore sanity to the federal government, but the budget announced today makes clear the scope of the struggle we face.”

Members of Executive Constantine’s Cabinet produced analyses of the potential local impacts of the proposed federal budget.

Analysis from the Department of Natural Resources and Parks

The president’s cuts to the EPA are devastating and clearly ignore the impacts of climate change on our communities, natural resources and quality of life. Although the budget includes new funding for drinking and wastewater infrastructure, this funding falls significantly short of the existing needs of the entire country. The budget reductions also take aim at communities impacted the most by pollution by reducing money in the Superfund cleanup program, eliminating the Clean Power Plan, and significantly reducing EPA’s enforcement programs.

The proposed budget nearly eliminates funding to restore some of the most iconic water bodies and critical habitat in the country – including Puget Sound – that support wildlife, fisheries and a maritime economy.

The budgets of the Department of Commerce and EPA slash research related to climate change including a significant reduction in coastal and marine research in NOAA’s budget. As ocean acidification rises significantly we are losing our shellfish industry along with impacts to a variety of sea life and impacts to fisheries.

Reductions to the budgets of FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will result in less preparation for communities to withstand devastating natural disasters and will result in reduced investments in critical infrastructure such as aging levees and local infrastructure such as the Ballard Locks which has a significant impact on our local economy and is more than 100 years old.

This budget clearly supports fossil fuels over clean fuel and renewable energy. For example, it increases funds for the Department of the Interior to support energy development on public lands, with attention toward streamlining permitting and giving industry access to federal lands – there are more than 350,000 acres of federal land in King County which could be impacted.

This budget does not recognize the important of protecting federal lands. It cuts funding for National Heritage Areas, which impacts the effort the designate the Mountains to Sound Greenway as a National Heritage Area and it cuts $120 million for new land acquisitions of land by the federal government. Our Skykomish Initiative, which includes USFS protecting some additional old growth forests near Skykomish in the Highway 2 Corridor, could be impacted.

The budget also cuts the Weatherization Assistance program which helps people who earn a lower income improve energy efficiency.

Analysis from Department of Transportation

The budget terminates federal support for Amtrak’s long-distance train services. Amtrak provides an important intra-city link between large and small communities across the country, and the Amtrak Cascades is one of the more productive routes.

The proposed budget limits future federal investment in major transit projects, shifting the burden entirely to those localities that use and benefit from these localized projects. This is a drastic change in federal policy which is not consistent with the Fixing America’s Transportation Act that was signed into law in 2015. This change in direction would have significant negative impact on multiple voter-approved ballot measures in the central Puget Sound Region such as Sound Transit 2, Sound Transit 3, and Move Seattle, all of which anticipated federal investment to help implement these projects that have regional and national benefits to our economy.

Three projects that have gone through the Federal Transit Administration review and recommendation process that would be impacted by this change in policy and would not receive $243 million in federal investment include: Sound Transit’s Lynnwood Link Extension, Community Transit’s SWIFT II and City of Seattle’s Center City Connector.

Additional projects that are seeking funding through the FTA’s Capital Investment Program that would not receive funding include projects from Seattle, and Sound Transit and potentially additional RapidRide Lines called for in the recently adopted Metro Connects Long Range Plan: Sound Transit’s Federal Way Extension and the Madison Street Bus Rapid Transit.

The proposed budget eliminates the highly successful TIGER discretionary grant program, which funds critical multimodal projects that do not always lend themselves to traditional federal formula funding. Examples in King County and the central Puget Sound Region include: Replacement of the South Park Bridge, Trestle Replacement in Tacoma, Mercer Corridor Improvements in Seattle, Port Terminal Revitalization in Everett, and two-way HOV Improvements on Interstate 90.

Analysis from Department of Community and Human Services

The Trump Administration’s budget calls for eliminating funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), which would mean a loss of $4.8 million annually for King County. That includes:

Loss of funding for homeless shelter and the Housing Stability Program (homeless prevention program).

Loss of funding for community projects such as sidewalks, parks, senior centers, food banks and more. CDBG funds often leverage local funds.

Eliminates all funding for the King County Housing Repair Program – about  $1 million – which provides no-interest loans for low-income households needing repairs to roofs, plumbing, electrical or sewer and also funds accessibility remodels, such as bathrooms and wheelchair ramps, to help older adults and people with disabilities to live safely in their own homes.

The proposed budget would also cut $3 million annually of capital funding, called HOME funds, to create low-income housing projects for people who are homeless.
The proposed budget also significantly decreases federal support for job-training and employment services that help people find jobs and regain economic stability.

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