Hawaii legislators pan Trump budget

President Donald Trump did what he said he was going to do, and that was an overhaul of the U.S. budget.

On Tuesday, Trump released his budget proposal of $4.1 trillion for 2018, around the same amount amount as 2017’s budget. His proposal increases defense spending up around 10 percent, while cuts in areas such as science and research, arts and social welfare programs are prominent.

It did not go over well with Hawaii’s elected leaders in Washington, D.C.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said the Trump Administration’s 2018 Budget Blueprint puts the “health and safety of the most vulnerable in our country at risk,” adding the proposed budget will take away $1.4 trillion from programs that families depend on.

“The president’s budget proposal put forward today will be damaging to the people in our communities and the places that we call home,” Gabbard said in a speech on the House floor Tuesday. “It cuts Medicaid by over $600 billion, cuts the food stamp program by over 25 percent, affecting the most needy within our communities.”

Gabbard said that among other programs, the proposed cuts will eliminate TIGER grants, cuts $143 billion from student loan and financial aid programs, $72 billion in cuts to the Social Security’s disability program, which serves over 19,000 people in Hawaii, and $191 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that serves over 170,000 people across the islands.

She also said the budget “zeros out” federal funding for the Hawaiian Housing Block Grant, the Native Hawaiian Loan Guarantee Program, and cuts Native Hawaiian Education programs by $33 million.

The proposed budget will also impact the Department of Education’s yearly budget from $68.2 billion in 2017 to $59 billion in 2018, a 13.5 percent decrease.

Lindsay Chambers, a Hawaii DOE spokesperson, said that HIDOE doesn’t want to speculate about proposed cuts, until “we know exactly how this will impact the Department.”

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, also spoke out against Trump’s budget proposal, labeling it “dead on arrival.”

Schatz said in a statement that Trump’s proposal would make severe cuts to domestic programs while funding tax breaks for the rich.

“President Trump’s budget proposal is not just radical, it’s cruel,” Schatz said. “But make no mistake – this budget is dead on arrival. When the administration tried to cut these programs for this fiscal year, we didn’t let it happen. This time is no different.”

During her town hall meeting on Kauai earlier this month, Sen. Mazie Hirono denounced Trump and said she would fully condemn any proposed cuts made against Native Hawaiian educational programs, grants and opportunities for Hawaii’s youth to learn about Native Hawaiian Culture.

When the budget proposal was released Tuesday, Hirono, who is battling kidney cancer, said in a statement that Trump’s proposed budget is “dangerous” for Hawaii families.

She pointed out that Medicaid, targeted for a $610 billion cut, has nearly 350,000 Hawaii residents depending on Medicaid to access health care.

“It dismantles Medicaid, breaks his promise not to cut Social Security, eliminates Native Hawaiian programs, slashes food stamps and other support for working families, guts federal education programs and defunds federal investments that create local jobs,” Hirono said. “I will fight tooth and nail in opposition to these dangerous and devastating cuts to programs Hawaii families depend on every day.”

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