Report: Trump’s proposed budget shifts many costs to the state

PROVIDENCE – President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for 2018 would have some serious consequences for low-to-moderate-income Rhode Islanders, according to a report from the Washington DC-based nonprofit Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The budget would eliminate several programs that contribute to thriving cities and towns, including funding for community learning centers, community services block grants, and community development block grants. It would also make deep cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families Program and to Medicaid, according to a press release today from the Economic Progress Institute.

“The President’s budget proposal doesn’t protect those left behind by today’s economy”, said EPI’s Executive Director, Rachel Flum. “It also shifts huge costs to Rhode Island at a time when we are already struggling to meet needs for education, transportation and other services Ocean State residents rely on.”

According to the report, one of the biggest cost shifts is the creation of a state match requirement on SNAP.  Beginning in 2020, states would need to pay 10 percent of the cost of SNAP benefits, rising to 25 percent in 2027. Rhode Island would need to pay $27 million in 2020 and $68 million in 2023 to continue to support the 162,000 Rhode Islanders who rely on SNAP to meet nutritional needs.  The estimated 10-year cost to Rhode Island is $475 million.

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The budget would also cut the TANF block grant by 10 percent in 2018, which would mean a loss of over $9 million for Rhode Island’s cash assistance/work readiness program for very poor families (RI Works) and child care assistance for working families.

Additionally, the budget cuts $610 billion in Medicaid funds on top of cuts in the House-passed American Health Care Act, bringing the total amount of cuts to $1.6 trillion over ten years. The Medicaid changes would effectively end coverage for the 70,000 adults who gained access to Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and threaten coverage and services for all 280,000 Rhode Islanders who rely on Medicaid for health care and/or long-term services and supports, according to the report.

“Rather than making investments that help low-income Rhode Islanders succeed and foster a stronger state economy,” remarked EPI’s director of economic and fiscal policy Doug Hall, “this budget would simply make it harder for our people and economy to succeed.”

Liz Lee is a PBN reporter.