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What Does Trump’s Spending Plan Do For Meals on Wheels, Special Education Funding?

by STAFF | Mar 17, 2017 5:42 am

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Posted to: Ansonia, Derby, Oxford, Seymour, Shelton

The Trump administration unveiled a plan Thursday that increases spending on defense, veterans affairs and homeland security by $59.5 billion while cutting funds to education, the state department, health and human services, and the Environmental Protection Agency by about $57.3 billion, according to Fox News.

A laundry list of long-standing grant-based programs could be reduced or eliminated if Trump’s plan is approved. Click here for a story from the CT Mirror.

Locally, federal and state funding of special education has been a major issue.

In Ansonia, the Republican-controlled City Hall has teamed with the Democratic state governor to lobby for a more equitable method of funding special education.

But help from the feds regarding special education funding is not coming, according to the CT Mirror:

Federal funding for special education would be flat-funded.

Given that special education costs in Connecticut’s school districts are the fastest growing expense, flat funding from the federal government probably would result in reductions to general education in many districts because federal law forbids cutting spending on programs for physically and intellectually disabled students.

Trump’s plan could also impact some funding for “Meals on Wheels,” a nonprofit program that feeds senior citizens who meet eligibility requirements.

In the Naugatuck Valley, Meals on Wheels served 360 senior citizens in 2013.

Some national media coverage on the Meals on Wheels angle — and the subsequent public reaction on the Internet — depended on which political party you support.

Coverage ranged from The Huffington Post’s “#LetThemDie” ‘Heartless’ Donald Trump Blasted for Killing Meals on Wheels Funds,” (a headline optimized for maximum Google search results), to “Liberals: Stop Saying That Trump Will Kill Meals on Wheels,” published on Forbes.com.

It should be noted that the Forbes piece is not a news story — it’s an opinion column published by a freelance writer reacting to the day’s headlines.

But a reporter Thursday asked Mick Mulvaney about Meals on Wheels. Mulvaney is the president’s budget director.

Mulvaney responded by saying that programs funded by Community Development Block grants (a partial funding source for Meals on Wheels), have been identified as programs “that were just not showing any results.”

Mulvaney said the federal government can’t make spending decisions based on programs that “sound good.”

“Meals on Wheels sounds great, and, again, that is a state decision to fund that particular portion to it, (but) to take the federal money and give it to the states and say ‘Look we want to give you money for programs that don’t work,’ I can’t defend that anymore. We’re $20 trillion in debt,” Mulvaney said.

Click here for the complete question and answer.

Mulvaney’s answer was quickly rebutted by people who have researched the effectiveness of Meals on Wheels. Click here to read a researcher’s response posted on Twitter.

Meals on Wheels itself released a statement Thursday saying the full impact on its program is not yet known — but the news announced yesterday is not good.

Here is a portion of the statement posted on the Meals on Wheels website:

With a stated 17.9% cut to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) budget, however, it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which these critical services would not be significantly and negatively impacted if enacted into law.

“The problem with a skinny budget is it is lean on details. So, while we don’t know the exact impact yet, cuts of any kind to these highly successful and leveraged programs would be a devastating blow to our ability to provide much-needed care for millions of vulnerable seniors in America, which in turn saves billions of dollars in reduced healthcare expenses” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO Meals on Wheels America.

Meals on Wheels is still waiting to hear what the administration wants to do with the “Older Americans Act,” which provides 35 percent of Meals on Wheels funding.

Finally, the Trump blueprint unveiled Thursday also has some big changes in store for the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which faces a 13 percent, or a $6 billion cut.

During Thursday’s press conference, Trump’s budget chief notes HUD is too involved in building housing — and is “not very well run.”

Mulvaney said the housing construction money would be moved into an infrastructure plan scheduled to be unveiled this summer.

Click here for the precise question and answer.

Locally, HUD is deeply involved in the redevelopment of a federally-subsidized housing complex on Olson Drive in Ansonia.

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