Yesterday, President Trump’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year (FY18) - October 2017 through September 2018 - was released by the administration to Congress for review. Overall, the budget requested would curtail funding for every major federal department and agency, the exception being the Department of Defense, which would see an increase.
The budget includes $3.6 trillion in spending reductions, the greatest decrease requested by any president, and one that would lower publicly held debt to 60 percent of GDP, a level not seen since 2010. According the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), President Trump’s plan would also achieve a balanced budget within 10 years.
Note that the President’s budget essentially serves as a wish list and way to demonstrate an administration’s priorities. The House and Senate Appropriations Committees will soon begin working on their funding packages for FY18 and are expected to differ significantly from the President’s proposal. Additionally, many had expected this budget request to provide more detailed insights into the administration’s frequently mentioned tax reform plan, which was outlined last month. However, that was not the case.
The FY18 budget’s specific requests impacting the boating industry will inform NMMA’s strategic approach when it comes to engaging the administration on industry priorities, as well as specific committees within Congress as each chamber begins to build out a budget and spending package.
“While we recognize the need for fiscal restraint in these challenging times, it is also our priority to make certain the cuts proposed do not put the federal government’s ability to protect our nation’s water ecosystem at great risk and U.S. manufacturers are able to remain competitive in the global market place,” said NMMA Federal and Legal Affairs Vice President Nicole Vasilaros. “Boaters and industry businesses alike make significant contributions to the U.S. economy, generating billions in consumer spending and supporting more than 650,000 jobs. We must continue investing in our federal lands and waters to maintain public access, enjoyment and the necessary conservation of our nation’s treasured resources. We look forward to working with Congress to address the industry’s concerns and priorities to the benefit of the nation’s economy.”
Below are high-level summaries of FY18 budget requests and impacts for departments and agencies that are of interest to the recreational boating and fishing communities:
Environmental Protection Agency
As expected, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received the largest requested cut in the entire budget. The President’s budget proposes a 31 percent cut in EPA funding, dropping the agency to $5.6 billion from $8.2 billion in FY17. Specifically, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is cut completely in the President’s budget.
Department of Interior
The President’s budget would fund the Department of Interior (DOI) at $11.7 billion, approximately $1 billion below current levels. The budget proposal prioritizes infrastructure of public lands by increasing funding for national parks to address their deferred maintenance backlog; decreases the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) by $202.9 million to $2.8 billion; and decreases the National Park Service (NPS) funding to $2.6 billion, a reduction of $296.6 million.
Department of Commerce
Under the Department of Commerce, the President’s budget request includes $845 million for the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), which is a decrease of over $107 million. NOAA Fisheries provides programs for the management and conservation of our country’s living marine resources, including fish stocks, marine mammals, and endangered species and their habitats within the United States Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The National Sea Grant College Program, Coastal Zone Management Program, and Coastal Salmon Recovery Program would all be shutdown per the President’s budget request.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) would receive a total of $5 billion, a 16 percent cut. Of the proposed funding, $1.02 billion would be allocated to the USACE construction account, which would be a 50 percent cut compared to FY17. The investigations account would receive a nearly 29 percent cut, which could limit the ability of USACE to start the process of beginning new water resources projects. All revenues collected through the Inland Waterways Trust Fund would be utilized by the budget. The request also includes $75 million for the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and $131 million for ecosystem restoration work in South Florida.
International Trade Administration (ITA)
President Trump’s proposal includes cuts to the International Trade Administration (ITA) with funding maxing out at $443 million. In FY17, ITA received $482 million. The majority of the cuts at ITA would be in the Global Markets division, which is dedicated to promoting American exports around the globe. It would receive $293 million, compared to $336 million in FY17.
Small Business Administration
The State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) program is under the purview of the Small Business Administration (SBA) and helps small businesses tap global markets and expand exports. The STEP program falls under the specific umbrella of the Office of International Trade, and for FY18 that office will receive $10 million to carry out export programs. This is a decrease compared to the $18 million for STEP currently.
The President’s budget request also includes $200 billion for infrastructure projects over 10 years, with the goal of creating $1 trillion in infrastructure investments met through some federal funding but also, incentivized non-federal funding as seen with public private partnerships. NMMA’s government affairs staff is ready to work with Congress and the administration to ensure that priorities like full service boating facilities, expanded waterway access, and dredging of the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) are realized.
NMMA’s government affairs team will be closely monitoring the appropriations process as it unfolds on Capitol Hill, and will continue to communicate the industry’s priorities with lawmakers and key staff.