GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump delivers an economic policy speech to the Detroit Economic Club on Monday.

Credit: Evan Vucci

Local Social Services And Academic Institutions Targeted By Trump Cuts

March 16, 2017

Social service and academic institutions in Massachusetts say cuts proposed in President Donald Trump’s budget would have a drastic impact on their work.

John Drew, the President/CEO of Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), which serves more than 100 thousand people in the Greater Boston area, said he doesn’t think his organization could survive the funding cuts Trump proposed Thursday.

The budget would eliminate Community Services Block Grants, which Drew ABCD says are crucial to the work his agency does.

“Right away, I would have 16 neighborhood sites gone. Four hundred staff gone,” Drew said.

And that, he said, would impact thousands of the area’s poorest people.

“Twenty-five hundred families who have children in all of our Head Start pre-K programs, [ages] zero to five,” he said. “All of the people who now are doing tax returns to help them get their earned income credit, so they can be able to get ahead in life. We have three high schools that we run.”

Trump has also proposed eliminating the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which Drew says helps 28,000 low income families in the area pay their heating bills. Drew said he hopes Congress will work to restore funding to those programs.

The cuts also include so-called Community Development Block Grants. In Massachusetts, those grants support a program that helps 150 elderly people manage their money and pay their bills.

“This is the program that is the bright line between them living in a safe, warm and supportive environment, and them being out on the street, and being homeless, and having to deal with the shelter system, which you can imagine is not very age-friendly,” said Dale Mitchell, CEO of the non-profit group Ethos, which runs the program.

Mitchell says Community Development Block Grants fund about 30 percent of the program’s operations, and elimination of that funding would mean laying off staff and setting up a wait list for the program.

The proposed budget also includes dramatic cuts to federal research funding that would deeply affect academic institutions.

If approved by Congress, it would cut $6 billion from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) — about 20 percent of its funding.

"I think it's incredibly shortsighted," said Susan Blanchard, Vice President of Research Administration at Tufts Medical Center, which receives more than half of its annual budget from the NIH.

Blanchard says Trump's blueprint is bad news for medical research and the economy.

"The NIH actually is a massive economic engine across the nation ... and I would hope that the administration would carefully consider what the long term consequences of what such a sudden and drastic cut to the NIH budget would do to our nation’s biomedical community," she said.

The budget would also zero out funding for the National Endowments of the Arts and the Humanities, both of which give millions of dollars to colleges and universities.

In a statement released Thursday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said the President's budget "eliminate[s] hundreds of redundant, overlapping or ineffective programs ... while streamlining and simplifying funding for college and continuing to help make college education more affordable."

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