President Trump’s budget would squeeze Illinois

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A White House official says President Donald Trump is expected to pull the United States out of the historic Paris deal on climate accord. | Associated Press

WASHINGTON – The fiscal 2018 budget President Donald Trump sent to Congress on Tuesday will not pass as is, with the GOP House and Senate divided over fiscal policies. Still Trump’s cuts, if enacted, would have a major impact on Illinois.

So consider Trump’s proposed spending plan a blueprint spelling out his governing philosophy with, among other items, slashes in programs that directly help the Illinois poor; the end of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative; and cuts in Amtrak subsidies for eight routes running through Chicago.

Trump’s suggested boosts in defense spending do little for Illinois, since the state does not host mega-defense industries. The Energy Department Office of Science is in line for a 16.4 percent trim, which could mean less cash for Argonne and Fermi, the big national labs in the Chicago suburbs.

Trump wants to end Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER)  grants, a money stream used by the city of Chicago and suburbs for a variety of infrastructure projects. For example, in 2016, the CTA won a $25 million TIGER grant to upgrade the Garfield Station on the “L” Green line – paying for half the cost of the project.

Trump’s proposals to curb Medicaid growth – a state/federal partnership covering the medically needy as well as nursing home costs for people once in the middle class and drained of resources as they age – delivers a major headache to Illinois.

Congress is  headed to capping Medicaid spending, even if not at Trump’s levels. It’s a significant problem ahead for Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrats in the Illinois General Assembly, already feuding and deadlocked in Springfield for years over state taxes and spending.

Trump’s proposed curbs on Medicaid in his budget foreshadows even more drastic Medicaid shrinking if Congress ends Obamacare.

Apparently overwhelmed with Springfield budget machinations on Tuesday – when state Senate Democrats passed a state income tax hike – Rauner spokeswoman Catherine Kelly told the Sun-Times, “We have no comment at this time.”

The Trump budget ends the Federal Impact Aid program, a “huge deal,” according to Rep. Brad Schneider D-Ill., for “North Chicago School District 187, where “impact aid is used to offset the tax revenue the city does not collect from land used by Naval Station Great Lakes.”

In Waukegan, the elimination of 21st Century Community Learning funds would limit the federal cash flowing to seven elementary and middle schools in the  Waukegan Community School District.

Rep. Dan Lipinski D-Ill. noted that Trump’s budget ends funding for National Park Service National Heritage Area programs – which would target the Illinois and Michigan Canal National Heritage Corridor and Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area.

Lipinski sits on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Aviation panel; according to Lipinski’s office, Trump’s plan to spin off the Air Traffic Controllers from the FAA may lead to exposing Midway and O’Hare to funding lapses.

Illinois Democrats in Congress, not surprisingly, slammed Trump’s budget with fierce rhetoric.

Illinois Republicans offered  bland statements, not wanting to exacerbate splits within their own rank.

While  Rep. Peter Roskam R-Ill., a Ways and Means Committee member, earlier this week went to bat for the Great Lakes initiative, when it comes to the entire Trump budget, his spokesman said, “We are still reviewing the budget proposal in its entirety.”

“While some growth assumptions may be optimistic, it is a good blueprint of the president’s priorities,” said Rep. Randy Hultgren R-Ill.

“The budget proposal shared today is merely a blueprint and is by no means set in stone,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger D-Ill.

Rep. Mike Quigley D-Ill., a member of the House Appropriations Committee said while Trump’s first budget “invests in tax cuts for the wealthy, it is a very clear disinvestment in our future . . . No aspect of our society is safe from this brutal budget.”

Sen. Tammy Duckworth D-Ill. said this “budget is bad for our economy and for Illinois families. It would weaken our nation, harm our environment, limit job creation, increase childhood hunger as well as put veterans, seniors and Americans living with disabilities on the chopping block. The American people deserve better.”

Rep. Jan Schakowsky D-Ill. said Trump’s budget “is a clear outline of his administration’s twisted priorities. Speaker Paul Ryan and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney have used words like compassion and mercy to describe their plots to take away food assistance, health care and disability insurance from those who need them. Clearly, they don’t understand what those words mean.”

Rep. Bobby Rush D-Ill., noting safety net programs in line for cuts help people with all kinds of political views, said “Trump is waging an all-out attack on the families and individuals who voted him into office.”

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