Phoenix Rising: What Trump’s budget proposal could mean for downtown Phoenix

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The America First Budget Blueprint brings out the scissors with massive cuts to domestic spending in favor of defense and public safety priorities. (Nicole Neri/DD)
The America First Budget Blueprint brings out the scissors with massive cuts to domestic spending in favor of defense and public safety priorities. (Nicole Neri/DD)

Last week, the Trump administration released its budget blueprint outlining proposed cuts and expenditures in many programs that affect the downtown Phoenix community.

Reviewing all 62 pages of the document, here are just a few of the areas that may impact you:

Arts & Humanities

While downtown Phoenix celebrated Artlink and the Roosevelt Row Merchants Association began discussing ways to preserve the arts district, the Trump administration has taken an opposite approach on funding arts. Their budget calls for the full elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The NEA has funded various projects for the Phoenix Symphony Association, the Heard Museum, the Phoenix Arts Museum and the Arizona Opera since 1998.

The NEH gave $16,000 to the Phoenix Art Museum for a seminar to promote teaching of American history, civics, government, literature, and culture. Local organizations such as Arizona Humanities also benefit from NEH grants for their operations.

RELATED: Amid funding loss fears, AZ Humanities hosts Miranda v. Arizona discussion

Housing & Homelessness

As discussed before in this column, the federal government has a surprisingly strong presence in public housing and the effort to end homelessness.

This would be impacted under the budget recommendation for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, where Community Development Block Grants, which empower local communities to guide their own development and have been administered by the City of Phoenix Neighborhood Services Department, are zeroed out.

RELATED: Phoenix Rising: D.C. and downtown housing

The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, which coordinates the Opening Doors plan to end homelessness among local and national policymakers, would also disappear.

RELATED: Phoenix Rising: Homelessness: It takes a village

For those who may need a bit of help getting back on their feet, the Phoenix Jobs Corps Center run by the Department of Labor in the Warehouse District at Third and Lincoln streets faces renewed risk. The budget suggests Jobs Corps centers that do a poor job of educating and preparing young people from the ages of 16 to 24 for jobs be closed, but doesn’t explain how a “poor job” will be defined.

Further, the administration suggests that federal support for job training and employment service formula grants be reduced to shift the responsibility of funding these programs to state and local governments.

Infrastructure

While President Trump has promised to spend $1 trillion in new infrastructure (not included in the budget proposal but reportedly being released later), the proposed budget for the Department of Transportation provides us with a glimpse of fewer federal projects in downtown Phoenix.

This past Friday, oral arguments took place in City of Phoenix, Arizona v. Michael Huerta, the lawsuit between the City of Phoenix and historic neighborhoods against the Federal Aviation Administration over the change in flight paths. If the Trump administration gets its way, the FAA will give up its air traffic control function to a non-governmental organization, which could dramatically redefine how citizens interact with those controlling the flight paths above their heads.

Meanwhile, the South Central Light Rail Extension will remain unscathed, but future Department of Transportation Capital Improvement Grant projects could be scrapped, which would leave large-scale projects without necessary funding for longer periods of time.

And for multi-modal transportation advocates, the budget would eliminate the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program, which provided funding for the Central Phoenix Multimodal Transportation Improvement Plan in 2014 and the Grand Canal Bike and Pedestrian Improvements in 2015.

Education

For current and future Arizona State University downtown students, the budget proposal for the Department of Education threatens some of the federal funding that kept university students afloat in the midst of massive state divestment during the Great Recession.

The budget is supposed to safeguard Pell Grants, but also reduces federal work study funding, with vague discussion about reforming the program (which may actually be needed to overcome a bias for older institutions). The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, which is an additional campus-based financial age program for students with need after receiving Pell Grants, would also be eliminated as the Trump administration seeks to reduce the complexity of the federal financial aid environment.

Meanwhile, the funding for federal TRIO programs and GEAR UP which help disadvantaged students prepare and succeed in college is reduced while the administration measures efficiency to determine whether those programs at risk for future defunding.

Public Safety

The budget proposal significantly increases spending on the armed services and various projects aimed at public safety. These programs tend to be some of the only programs that will see an increase in funding.

For the Department of Defense, there will be a $54 billion increase to spending, which is offset by the majority of cuts to domestic services.

Perhaps most prominently, the budget recommends the Department of Justice receive additional funds to implement increased border security, including a potential wall along the southwestern border.

How can I make a difference?

Ultimately, your Arizona Congressional District will be the ones who have the largest say in the financing of these programs and others through either the formal budget process or another continuing resolution. You can find and contact your representative at the House of Representatives website and can contact Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain as well.

Typically, in-person visits are the most effective tool to get your point across, but calls and then written letters are decent second and third choices.

Does America need to prioritize spending on its defense and public safety? Should we spend more on domestic social programs from the federal level? Or should things continue on largely the way they are?

Make sure to let both your Congressional representatives and us know in the comments below and in the offices here in Arizona and out east in Washington, D.C.

Contact the reporter at raboyd2@asu.edu.