In response to the release of the Trump administration’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018, National Association of Counties Executive Director Matthew Chase issued the following statement:
“We are greatly concerned that this proposed budget essentially abdicates the federal role in the federal-state-local intergovernmental partnership that is essential to addressing our nation’s most pressing challenges. This budget, if enacted, would deal devastating blows to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.
“The impact of proposed budget cuts is real for our residents, especially elderly citizens, people with disabilities and children. The proposed budget would strip them of any safety net — from heating assistance to workforce training to child services.
“The scale of these proposed cuts would far outpace the ability of state and local governments to backfill, from disaster mitigation to infrastructure upgrades to assistance for the working poor, elderly and children.
“This budget places a bullseye on rural counties and residents already being left behind. More than three quarters of counties with fewer than 50,000 residents still have not fully recovered from the recession. Programs that are being cut were designed for those places and people being left behind in the new economy, especially rural areas. The federal government plays a key role in helping our residents and communities deal with the impacts of global trade and technology innovations as well as negative impacts of federal policies.
“With this budget, the federal government would be walking away from its role, forcing state and local governments to raise taxes at an unprecedented level or simply turn their backs on those who truly require public assistance.
“Ongoing budget constraints and increasing need make it all but impossible to find replacement funding for the programs chain-sawed out of existence or beyond recognition.
“Whether it’s infrastructure or the opioid epidemic, public health and safety or community development, counties are on the front lines of providing services to residents. We operate nearly 1000 hospitals and 883 nursing homes, run sheriffs’ departments and jails to the tune of $16 billion annually and own 46 percent of America’s roads — touching hundreds of millions of lives every day.
“Counties stand ready to work to improve the programs and policies that create healthy, vibrant and safe communities. We also are committed to working with the White House and Congress to explain how these proposals would adversely impact our residents, increase local taxes and stymie housing and economic development efforts. We welcome the opportunity to engage with our counterparts across the federal government in creating common-sense alternatives.”