Fact of the Week: More than 80 percent of critical human needs programs have lost ground since FY10


May 16, 2017

Minority health programs cut by 10 percent. Juvenile justice programs cut nearly in half. Housing for the elderly cut by 46 percent; housing for people with disabilities cut nearly 57 percent. Job training to assist ex-offenders reintegrating into their communities cut nearly 28 percent.
Out of the 167 programs tracked by CHN that assist low-income people, 135 saw funding cuts from FY 2010 through FY 2017 after taking inflation into account. But it wasn’t just inflation eroding the value of the funding. New research by CHN found that more than half of the programs (85 of them, to be exact) were cut by 15 percent or more, and nearly one-third (53 programs) were slashed by 25 percent or more. Only 32 programs, or less than one in five, actually received an increase in funding over this time.

Among the programs that have seen substantial reductions over this period are emergency medical services for children (cut by more than 16 percent since FY10) and employment services for older Americans (cut 57 percent). Substance abuse treatment programs were slashed by 31 percent over seven years, and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) has been cut by one-third over this time. You can see details on how all 167 programs fared here.

It’s clear that additional investments are needed to shore up these programs so they can lift more people out of poverty. But unless Congress acts soon to undo sequestration cuts that are scheduled to go back into effect for FY 2018, domestic and international discretionary programs (those that are annually appropriated, as all of the programs CHN tracks for this analysis are) will be subjected to billions more in cuts. While the spending caps for this category for FY18 are about $3 billion below FY17 levels, a combination of unavoidable cost increases and loss of revenue means $16-$20 billion more will be needed just to stay even with current levels.

But it gets even worse. President Trump’s proposed FY18 budget – the “skinny” version of which came out in March – cut $54 billion below the sequester caps for discretionary programs and gave this money to the Pentagon. This alone would eviscerate some programs that help low-income people: 200,000 families would lose access to rental assistance and be placed at imminent risk of homelessness, and 1.8 million children would be terminated from afterschool and summer programs, just to name a few of the horrible outcomes.

President Trump is expected to release a more detailed version of his FY18 budget on May 23. Reports are that his budget will also cut $800 billion over 10 years from entitlement programs (also known as “mandatory,” or those that aren’t annually appropriated) that help low-income people, including programs like Medicaid, SNAP/food stamps, children’s health insurance, tax credits for the working poor, and income assistance to the poor and people with disabilities. These disastrous cuts would be on top of the $880 billion in cuts to Medicaid included in the House-passed ACA repeal bill. New reports also state that the House budget, expected out in June, will cut $400 billion from these entitlement programs; advocates fear the House budget will also include some of the cuts to discretionary programs included in Trump’s budget. The GOP plans to use a special budget process that would allow them to pass cuts to entitlement programs (such as Medicaid and SNAP), along with billions in tax cuts to the rich, with only a simple majority in the House and Senate.

As one Politico article put it when referring to the expected House budget,

“If enacted, such a plan to curb safety-net programs – all while juicing the Pentagon’s budget and slicing corporate tax rates – would amount to the biggest shift in federal spending priorities in decades.”

All of this is why we’re urging local, state and national organizations to sign a letter urging Congress to pass a budget that promotes economic opportunities for all, safeguards and advances our basic living standards, and protects our environment (individuals can sign a petition). Click here to read and sign the letter or petition. And if you represent a church, synagogue, labor union, civic organization, human or civil rights group, environmental protection organization, small business, front-line service provider agency, or any other local, state or national organization, please sign on behalf of your organization.

We’ll have more information next week after President Trump’s budget is released, so stay tuned.

Budget and Appropriations
child nutrition
Child Tax Credit
Earned Income Tax Credit
Education and Youth Policy
Fact of the Week
Job Training and Education
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
Poverty and Income
Ryan budget
Social Services
tax policy
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families