President Trump’s proposed budget would cost D.C.’s government at least $103 million and lead to the loss of roughly 120 public-sector jobs, dealing a blow to affordable housing and other social services in a city where runaway economic growth has bypassed many low-income residents, District officials said Monday.
The estimated loss amounts to about 9.6 percent of the $1.07 billion in non-Medicaid federal funding the District would receive this year — and does not account for cuts to health-care spending that could result from Republicans’ efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
City officials projected the hit to their budget based on the preliminary federal spending plan Trump released Thursday. That budget proposed dramatic reductions in funding for domestic programs and a ramping up of military and homeland security spending.
The effects would be severely felt in Washington, which relies on direct federal funding for 25 percent of its budget. In New York, by contrast, the figure is 9 percent. Cities other than the District also receive a certain amount of indirect federal funding that is funneled through their states.
Trump’s plan to scale back agencies such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development — targeted for a 13 percent spending cut — would dry up a significant portion of the federal grants bestowed on District programs that help the poor, City Administrator Rashad M. Young said.
“We’re looking at a federal budget that’s bleak in its investments in critical programs,” Young said at a news conference Monday. “This budget proposal is inconsistent with our D.C. values.”
Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), who did not attend the news conference, issued a statement echoing those concerns.
“By making cuts to programs that support basic needs like housing and health care, this budget will force our city to make tough choices about programs that not only promote growth, but enable us to support our most vulnerable residents,” Bowser said.
It remains unclear how much of the White House’s proposal will become reality. Congress must approve the president’s spending plan in the coming months, and some members of his own party are already balking.
Young said city officials will be unable to calculate the losses to some programs until the president releases a more detailed budget in May. He said the city also has yet to estimate how much of the District’s $2.19 billion in annual Medicaid funding could be at stake if Medicaid is rolled back as part of a GOP health-care overhaul.
Among the hardest-hit D.C. programs would be those that promote affordable housing and offer assistance to low-income residents. Housing programs would lose out on about $17 million in funding, Young said, while nonprofit groups that provide social services and counseling to about 60,000 District residents stand to lose $10.5 million.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a popular national program that subsidizes heating and cooling costs for the poor, could lose $10 million. About 22,000 D.C. residents each year receive help through LIHEAP, Young said.
Public-safety programs could also be at risk, Young said, including a federal grant that pays the salaries of about 45 police officers out of the 3,800-member force.
Bowser aides said the mayor plans to meet with Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to discuss her concerns about the preliminary budget proposal.
Since last week, city and state officials across the country have been warily sizing up the threat to their local budgets from the proposed cuts to domestic programs.
Iris Lav, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said many states would have trouble finding the money to restore the social services that would be slashed if Congress passes Trump’s budget.
“It hits a lot of low-income programs. It hits things that help students, and a lot of things that help seniors and people with disabilities,” Lav said. “It’s pretty difficult for any jurisdiction to replace the kind of money they’re talking about.”
Unlike many cities and states across the country, the District is in a strong financial position. Last month, city officials reported nearly $1.17 billion in reserve funds, the result of years of booming tax revenue.
But Young said Monday that the excess money was intended for emergencies or one-time expenditures and should not be used to plug permanent holes in the city’s budget of the kind that would be opened by the president’s spending proposal.
“The reserve isn’t designed, nor should it be used, to pay ongoing operating expenses of the government,” Young said. “If we start taking the reserves to pay for things that the federal government should be doing, then we’re going to be on a slippery slope in terms of our financial stability.”