ANNAPOLIS — Maryland lawmakers are expressing grave concern about President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget.
With deep cuts to environmental programs, the National Institutes of Health and the size of the federal work force, several local programs — from the park service to the National Cancer Institute at Fort Detrick to Maryland Legal Aid — could be hit.
Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-8th, called the budget outline released by the president on Thursday a “savage attack on working families, science, health, arts and the environment.”
Rep. John Delaney, D-6th, has called on Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and others to speak out against the proposed cuts.
“Donald Trump’s economically illiterate budget is an attack on Maryland and a disaster for our economy,” Delaney said. “Every elected official in Maryland should be marching to the White House to object to this budget. This budget guts the National Institutes of Health, eliminates federal funding to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and eliminates federal economic development grants to Western Maryland. There’s no way of spinning this: from Cumberland to the Chesapeake to St. Mary’s, this budget is an assault on Maryland’s economy, environment and quality of life.”
Delaney said he was calling on Hogan in particular, since he is in the same party as the president, “to forcefully reject this budget.”
Hogan’s office indicated they would wait to see how the final budget numbers shake out as the proposal winds through Congress — where it is certain to be amended.
“If any of these budget proposals ever become law, we will take a serious look at how to address them during our budget process next year. The governor will continue fighting and advocating on behalf of all Marylanders,” Hogan spokeswoman Amelia Chasse said.
U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D), a member of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committees, said the budget hurts the poor the most.
“The president’s budget is great if you’re a person like Donald Trump who flies to Mar-a-Lago every weekend at taxpayer expense — but it betrays the Americans who feel left behind and forgotten,” he said. “And for the people who supported him, especially in rural areas of our country, they are hit particularly hard.”
The budget blueprint released this week outlines Trump’s $1.1 trillion plan for discretionary spending, which makes up about a third of the federal budget. A full budget is expected in May.
Here’s how the federal budget could affect Frederick County:
The impact on the federal workforce could be a mixed-bag for Frederick County, while lawmakers said the outlook statewide was negative.
A Bureau of Labor Statistics quarterly report showed that there were 146,513 total federal workers in Maryland as of September, including 3,684 in Frederick County.
The Department of the Army — which stands to grow as the result of a 10 percent percent increase in the country’s military spending — has the greatest number of Frederick County-based workers: 1,895.
The second-highest number of county-based federal workers are connected to the Department of Health and Human Services, which has some offices on base at Detrick, but also off base. There are 389 HHS employees based in Frederick County, according to OPM. The budget cuts the Health and Human Services funding by 18 percent.
For the state as a whole, Delaney pointed to a Moody’s Analytics report which concluded that the budget proposal could increase unemployment in the capital region by 1.8 percent, reduce personal income by 3.5 percent and lower home prices.
The deepest cuts proposed in Trump’s budget are to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The proposal would slash 31 percent of the agency’s current budget and eliminate approximately 3,200 jobs.
Among the cuts is the elimination of the Chesapeake Bay Program, which awarded the state of Maryland $9 million in 2016.
The program coordinates Chesapeake Bay watershed restoration and conservation efforts throughout the mid-Atlantic, including efforts to plant trees throughout the watershed to reduce polluted runoff into the bay.
The budget includes a 12 percent decrease to the Department of the Interior, home to the National Park Service.
There are five National Park Service sites in Frederick County: Catoctin Mountain Park, C&O Canal National Historical Park, Monocacy National Battlefield, Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
For the roughly 9,500 acres of federal land in the county, Frederick County government receives roughly a $25,000 annual payment from the federal government in lieu of property taxes.
Trump’s budget blueprint says payment levels will be reduced, but remain in line with the amounts paid over the past decade.
The proposed budget retains $500 million in funding for addiction treatment programs passed by lawmakers in 2016 as part of the 21st Century Cures Act.
Nationally, the opioid epidemic took more than 33,000 lives in 2015, according to the Trump administration. Fifty-one people died of heroin overdoses in Frederick County last year.
The proposed budget eliminates funding for the Community Development Block Grant program as part of a 13.2 percent decrease to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In fiscal 2016, Maryland received $7.2 million from the program. Additional funding is provided to Maryland’s Entitlement Communities under the program, which include Frederick.
As an entitlement community, the City of Frederick receives an annual award directly from HUD. Over the past 10 years, the city has primarily designated its Community Development Block Grant entitlement funding for affordable housing, revitalization and public service-related activities. In the latest expenditure report available online from July 2014 to June 2015, the city used $709,380.75 in grants.
Maryland counties, cities and towns received more than $44 million in Community Development Block Grants in 2015, with another $8.8 million in Community Services Block Grants to community action agencies that work to alleviate poverty.
The Community Development Network of Maryland is pushing the General Assembly, which adjourns April 10, to pass legislation that would establish a new state Community Development Fund that would be supported by a property transfer fee.
Meals on Wheels
One of the many anti-poverty programs within the Community Development Block Grants is Meals on Wheels, which is also cut entirely.
About 6.2 percent of the county’s Meals on Wheels budget — $21,763 — comes from the federal government. In February, the Meals on Wheels program served 178 clients, according to Frederick County government.
Legal Aid and Heartly House
The budget also proposes eliminating funding for independent agencies, including the federal Legal Services Corporation.
Maryland Legal Aid receives about $3 million to $4 million a year in funding from the federal government. There are 14 Legal Aid branches in Maryland — including a branch in downtown Frederick — that close an average 6,000 cases per year.
Staff writer Samantha Hogan contributed to this story.