President Trump just released his proposed FY18 federal budget and ASFPM opposes it. The budget fails to make America safer from natural disasters, especially floods, the leading cause of disasters in this nation. The budget cuts myriad federal programs in FEMA, HUD, Corps of Engineers, NOAA, EPA and USDA that communities and states use to build safer and protect citizens from the frequently occurring flood disasters.
The proposed budget cuts FEMA’s flood mapping program by $190 million, and the entire pre-disaster mitigation program. In addition, the administration proposes a 16 percent cut to USACE, 31 percent from EPA and technical assistance to farmers for conservation programs from USDA watershed programs that assist in not only clean water, but help reduce flood losses. It zeroes out more than $250 million in targeted NOAA grants and programs supporting coastal and marine management, climate change programs, research and education. This would include the Coastal Zone Management Program and the widely popular Sea Grant Program.
All of this is occurring during a period of increased natural disasters. During 2016, the nation experienced some of the greatest disaster costs according to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, which tracks U.S. weather and climate events that have great economic and societal impacts. Since 1980, the U.S. has sustained 203 weather and climate disasters where the overall damage costs reached or exceeded $1 billion (including adjustments based on the Consumer Price Index, as of January 2017). The cumulative costs for these 203 events exceed $1.1 trillion.
Federal budgets must help communities prepare for and mitigate the risk and costs of these disasters. The federal budget proposal cuts essential community development, housing and transportation programs utilized by communities across the nation. At a time when cities and towns face significant challenges to infrastructure investment, affordable housing and economic development, the elimination of critical and proven federal programs will make communities less safe and increase disaster costs.
Flood mapping and mitigation programs are the foundation for communities and states to manage flood risk, build community resilience and strengthen their economies. These programs have been successful, had bipartisan support and help leverage sustainable private sector investments. Additionally, the cuts in this budget also make our communities more vulnerable and less safe.
We believe the scope of these cuts places jobs, development projects and public health at risk. We do not believe the cuts are consistent with the expressed priorities of President Trump, ranging from infrastructure investment to boosting growth and jobs.
Floodplain managers stand ready to work with Congress and the administration on policies and programs that will reduce future flood risk and damage, and lessen the disaster costs for communities and the federal taxpayers. The federal programs must be partners with communities and states to create stronger and more economically vibrant places to work and live. This budget does not do that.
It is important to remember this is only the first step in a long federal budget process. Congress reviews the president’s budget, but they are ultimately responsible for the final federal spending plan. ASFPM will work with Congress to reject these cuts and instead support essential investments in the future of our communities. We urge our members to become involved in this process and to have your voice be heard. We will be working with you over the next months as the budget process unfolds, keeping you informed and asking for your assistance. Stay tuned for more alerts from ASFPM and be prepared to take action.