Trump’s First Budget Request and What It Means for Parks and Recreation

By Dave Tyahla | Posted on March 18, 2017

2017 march presidential budget

The Trump White House released its first federal budget request this week on Thursday, March 16. The request provides a very simple outline of priorities for FY2018, which begins October 1, 2017. As is typical for a brand new administration, this initial budget is lite on detail and more of a vision statement for their funding and programmatic priorities. Commonly referred to as a "Skinny Budget," it's a rather simple 62-page "blueprint" which can be reviewed here in its entirety.  

The White House has stated they intend to provide additional line-by-line detail in May.

President’s FY2018 Budget Request Summary

As stated in the budget’s introduction, the core of the president's first budget blueprint is on the "rebuilding of our Nation’s military without adding to our Federal deficit. There is a $54 billion increase in defense spending in 2018 that is offset by targeted reductions elsewhere. This defense funding is vital to rebuilding and preparing our Armed Forces for the future."

Key park and recreation policy priorities are identified to receive cuts and elimination. On deck to be cut is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which faces a 31 percent overall budget cut. Outlined to be eliminated are:

  • Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)
  • TIGER Grants
  • 21st Century Community Learning Centers
  • AmeriCorps and VISTA
  • EPA and NOAA Environmental Education grant programs

NRPA urges you to take action in support of CDBG and Environmental Education grants.

The White House Budget Blueprint document provides a full summary for each Agency, as well as the Administration’s justification for their proposed cuts.  

The following are the key takeaways from vital Federal Agencies:

Department of the Interior:  12% decrease in overall funding. Reduces land acquisition budget by $120 million. Increases funding for addressing NPS maintenance backlog. Leverages taxpayer investment for wildlife conservation, historic preservation and recreation grants. NOTE:  Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is NOT identified by name in the budget blueprint, so it’s not clear exactly how the program will be treated in the overall budget proposal. NRPA will continue to fight for robust, dependable funding for the LWCF State Assistance Program in FY2018.  

EPA: 31% decrease in overall funding.  Eliminates funding for several climate change programs and regional efforts such as the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the Chesapeake Bay.

Department of Transportation: 13% decrease in overall funding. Eliminates TIGER program (approx.. $500 million).

Housing and Urban Development: 14% decrease in overall funding. Eliminates CDBG ($3 Billion). 

Since it was enacted in 1974, the CDBG program has been a key resource for State and local governments to use in devising flexible solutions to meet community development needs, including park and recreation projects. Between 2005 and 2013, $864 million in CDBG funds directly supported park and recreation projects. If CDBG were eliminated, the loss would leave an insurmountable gap in funding that could have been used to provide park and recreation opportunities to those who need it most.

We need you to take action! You can help save CDBG by telling your members of Congress to reject any attempts to eliminate CDBG or cut its funding. It only takes a few moments to make a big difference for communities in need.

Department of Education: 14% decrease in overall funding. Eliminates 21st Century Community Learning Centers ($1.2 Billion) and other grants for teacher training and after-school and summer programs ($3.7 Billion).

Department of Homeland Security: 6.8% increase. Eliminates/reduces FEMA state and local disaster mitigation funding by $667 million.

Corporation for National and Community Service: Recommends elimination of full agency, including AmeriCorps.

Department of Commerce: 16% decrease in overall funding. Eliminates $250 million in National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) grants, including small but still significant environmental education grants.

These education programs are critical tools in support of environmental education and learning. We urge you to contact your elected officials about budget appropriations for critical environmental education funding at the EPA and NOAA.  NRPA urges you to utilize the tools provided by our partner organization, the North American Association of Environmental Education (NAAEE) to contact your elected leaders on this important issue. Action is needed by March 27! 

Take Action on Environmental Education

Remember: Congress ultimately decides how federal dollars are spent. However, the President’s budget is the blueprint or vision statement of the Administration’s funding priorities. Some members of Congress are not in favor of the overall breadth of cuts, but are still sympathetic to cutbacks, or even elimination of certain programs.   

If they do not hear from constituents in support of targeted programs, they will assume there is NOT interest in preserving them. Take action now in support of CDBG and Environmental Education grants. 

Overall Budget Process

The budget released this week is the first step in a long budget and appropriations process. The likely-hood of the President's request being formally approved, as is, by the Congress is nearly zero. Major changes are a near certainty. The President has no power to enforce these changes without Congress.  Per the constitution, Congress has the "power of the purse" and makes all final decisions on spending. 

The next step will be for the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to hold hearings on the President’s Budget and listen to department heads and others who can speak to the President’s priorities. The House and Senate will also be working to draft their own FY2018 Budget Resolutions (guidelines and spending limits), and then the Appropriations Committee will start drafting individual appropriations bills (a total of 13) and hold public hearings on them.

Further, Congress will, at the very same time, be debating the remaining FY2017 Appropriations Bills, which need to pass in some form before April 28. Given the critical work needed to complete action on FY2017 Appropriations, and the President's full budget request not being released until May, the FY2018 Appropriations process in Congress may be delayed even further.

Stand Up For Parks and Rec - Host a Park Champion Event!

The President's Budget is a suggested blueprint that begins the federal budget process, but only Congress has the final say in what programs stay or go. You can show your members of Congress how important investing in local parks and recreation is by hosting a Park Champion event! Invite your members of Congress to see your parks and programs and meet the community members who depend on them. NRPA makes it easy to host a Park Champion event. Sign the Park Champion pledge and start planning your event today with the Park Champion Advocacy Toolkit.


Dave Tyahla is NRPA's Senior Government Affairs Manager.