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Trump's budget would force state, county to 'pick up pieces'

  • Published in State

President Trump proposed a detailed budget May 23 that kept the themes of his March budget blueprint: steep cuts to science-based agencies, many headquartered in Montgomery County, and to programs to aid lower-income people, offset by sizable increases for defense and Homeland Security.

Compared with the 80-page budget released in March, the new spending plan for Fiscal Year 2018 (October 1, 2017-September 30, 2018) is a vast, eight-volume document with details on Trump’s proposals for every agency. Other subjects newly addressed include how the deficit would be affected, the major changes from previous budgets, revenue forecasts, and economic growth assumptions.

Given the size of the new document, reactions to it this week are only preliminary, with the meanings of many provisions yet to be unearthed by congressional review over the coming months.

If the proposed major cuts are enacted to Medicaid, food stamps (called Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or “SNAP”), elderly and school nutrition, “It would be up to the County or state government or both to pick up the pieces,” said Joy Nurmi, special assistant to County Executive Ike Leggett. For instance, she predicted, if SNAP cutbacks are adopted, many people would go to food pantries such as Manna Food Center in Gaithersburg. Manna is partially funded by the County and the cities of Rockville and Gaithersburg.

“A budget is a moral document,” reflecting a community’s values, Nurmi asserted. She called the Trump budget “completely morally corrupt.”

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Local leaders react to federal budget

  • Published in Local

ROCKVILLE – Local leaders said they are relieved after Congress passed its budget last week, avoiding the massive cuts that President Donald J. Trump proposed to federal agencies located in the County.

When Trump proposed significant cuts to federal agencies located in the County – such as the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – the almost exclusively Democratic-elected politicians on the local, state and federal levels objected.

“In this deal, Democrats stood strong against terrible proposals advanced by President Trump and secured significant victories for American families, the U.S. economy, and our shared values. I’m proud of the unity and focus in the Democratic Caucus,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-8).

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Federal budget could devastate county

  • Published in Local

Jobs are in jeopardy for thousands of federal government employees in Montgomery County, as the Trump administration envisions cuts to locally-based agencies like the National Institutes of Health and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

In his 2018 budget blueprint released last month, Trump proposes slashing NIH funding by nearly $6 billion — an 18 percent drop from its current budget of $31 billion. Approximately 17,000 NIH employees and 10,000 of its contractors work in Montgomery County, according to the agency, which makes NIH the county’s largest employer.

In total, approximately 48,000 Montgomery County residents are federal government employees — around 10 percent of the total workforce — and thousands more are federal contractors, according to the county. Many are in danger of losing their jobs if the new president, who campaigned on “draining the swamp” by gutting government spending and reducing the federal workforce, can implement his budget proposal as it is currently written.

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Gaithersburg Considers Budget Proposal

  • Published in Local

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GAITHERSBURG – The heads of city agencies came to City Hall Monday night to tell Mayor Jud Ashman and the City Council how their departments planned to allocate funds in the city’s proposed operating budget for Fiscal Year 2018.

City Manager Tony Tomasello, in his opening remarks, said the budget increased by less than a quarter of a percent over the previous year. Several department heads discussed personnel or organizational changes.

“Although there has been talk in Congress of eliminating CDBG (Community Development Block Grants), we decreased that allocation just a small amount,” said Louise Kaufmann, chief of Housing and Community Development. “Last year, we received $353,000 in CDBG funds, of which $230,000 was allocated to the housing programs and this year $220,000. If we get a smaller grant from Congress, we can make adjustments.”

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Council gets its turn to comment on budget

  • Published in Local

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ROCKVILLE – Last week the County Council heard from the residents. Now it has its chance to craft a budget.

After County Executive Ike Leggett released his $5.4 billion proposed budget in March, the Council took comments from the community in a series of public hearings before it deliberates during the next month or so to craft a budget.

Unlike last year in Leggett’s proposed budget, this fiscal year’s does not contain any considerable tax increase, and Council President Roger Berliner (D-1) said a tax increase over the County charter limit is not on the table this year.

Many of the people who showed up last week to testify asked the County to fund their particular interests, whether they are Montgomery College or one of the County’s nonprofit partners such as Manna Food Center.

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Berliner says budget aggression will not stand

  • Published in Local

Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner reassured activists and professionals in the Jewish community last week that the County’s proposed budget that includes a 1 percent cut in funding for nonprofits will not stand.

“It just simply can’t stand, and I know my colleagues feel the same way,” Berliner told the 60 participants at the 12th annual Jewish Community Relations Council’s Montgomery County Advocacy Day on April 6.

The reduced funding is proposed to come out of the Department of Health and Human Services Non-Developmental Disabilities Provider Services Contracts budget, which many nonprofits rely on to provide services to County residents.

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NIH faces massive cuts under Trump budget

  • Published in News

BETHESDA -- Under President Trump’s recent budget proposal, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is set to receive a major cut to its annual budget.

The proposal reduces the $31.7 billion NIH budget by approximately 18 percent. It also calls for the reorganization and streamlining of the various institutes to reduce overhead costs and the elimination of the Fogarty International Center.

“It’s definitely a distressing proposal, these are devastating cuts and a blow to the country," said Jamie Raskin (D), who represents Maryland's 8th Congressional District, which includes NIH as well as other federal research agencies including the Food and Drug Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Science is an overall social project, and when you knock out the basic pillars, it devastates the entire enterprise,” he added.

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Van Hollen blasts Trump budget cuts

  • Published in News

Chris Van HollenSen. Chris Van Hollen (D)    FILE PHOTO  

CAPITOL HILL – Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D) came out strongly against the budget proposal unveiled by President Donald Trump, which features harsh cuts to many federal agencies.

In a press conference on Thursday, Van Hollen said the budget blueprint Trump submitted that describes how his administration intends to allocate discretionary spending represents a “betrayal” of Trump’s campaign promises and everyday Americans.

“The Trump budget is great if you can get on a plane every weekend and fly to Mar-a-Lago. But it stinks for everybody else,” Van Hollen said, referring to the president’s Florida resort. “It is directly aimed at hurting working families, and it will hurt people’s opportunities to get ahead and make it in America.”

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