ASLA responds to Trump’s divisive budget blueprint

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Congress still has to draft a formal budget, but the plan released Thursday by the Trump administration indicates the president’s priorities.Congress still has to draft a formal budget, but the plan released Thursday by the Trump administration indicates the president’s priorities.

President Donald Trump released his 2018 budget blueprint on Thursday, which places priorities with the Defense Department, Homeland Security and Veteran affairs, while others took serious cuts.

The State Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were some of the departments which saw double-digit spending cuts and the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has released a statement concerning the new budget.

“We are disappointed with President Trump’s budget blueprint, which calls for dramatic cuts to many of the federal programs and resources for strengthening our nation’s infrastructure and economic development,” ASLA said in its statement.

The organization expressed concern over the proposal to eliminate the community development programs, the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and the Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants program.

CDBG is one of the longest-running programs of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and funds the construction of public facilities and improvements. TIGER grants allows state and local applicants to receive funding for road, rail, transit or port projects in need of repair.

“TIGER has been one of the most successful and popular programs with lawmakers, communities and transportation planners like landscape architects, with the number of applications far exceeding the amount of available funding,” ASLA said.

Trump’s budget proposal will also reduce the EPA’s funding by 31 percent. ASLA voiced its apprehension about how it would cripple key air and water quality programs and climate change research and resources.

“The budget recommendation purports to increase funding for EPA’s Drinking Water and Clean Water State Resolving Funds by $4 million,” ASLA said. “However, the budget also eliminates $498 million from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Water and Wastewater loan and grant program, and instead recommends that rural communities access EPA’s State Revolving Funds, thus leaving State Revolving Funds with a $494 million reduction in funding.”

Recently, ASLA had released its recommendations on updating and strengthening the nation’s infrastructure by fixing the water management systems, upgrading the transportation network, recognizing parks as critical infrastructure and designing for resiliency. The document can be viewed here.

“The United States needs a new approach to infrastructure development,” said Nancy C. Somerville, executive vice president and CEO of ASLA. “Now is the time to integrate a sound, strategic planning and design process. Integrating comprehensive infrastructure planning with natural systems analysis and land use planning is essential for creating livable communities in sustainable environments.”

The Society has vowed to work with legislators through this long process to ensure that sound infrastructure solutions remain funded.

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