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APLU Statement on Trump Administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Blueprint

Washington, DC – Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) President Peter McPherson today released the following statement regarding the Trump administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget blueprint.

“The Trump administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget blueprint for research and higher education would have devastating short and long-term consequences for the United States and the American people. This blueprint represents the first step in the FY2018 budget process. We want to work with the administration and Congress for an outcome that will protect research and higher education programs, which are key ingredients for economic growth and have traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support.

“Research and higher education serve as the underpinnings of our economy and society. There is simply no possible way to achieve the robust levels of economic growth the president seeks without investing in these two areas. For decades, the United States has maintained its position as global innovation leader, but this budget would force a retreat from that role and cede the development of new technological breakthroughs to other countries. This would, in turn, create an innovation deficit and enable those other countries to reap the economic benefits instead of us. There are certain investments the United States can’t afford to not make.

“The proposed 19 percent cut to the National Institutes of Health is alarming and an anemic approach to addressing the health and economic needs of our country. NIH needs a shot in the arm to support more research projects aimed at unlocking cures to the most devastating diseases, illness, and ailments. Instead, this budget would deliver a significant setback to the countless families who are hoping and praying for a medical breakthrough that will deliver a much-needed cure or innovative treatment for an ailing loved one. Additionally, the virtual elimination of the health professions and nursing training programs at the Department of Health and Human Services would have dire implications for the country’s health workforce needs. These programs work to address provider shortages and needed geographic availability of health professionals.

“Other key research programs, including those at the Department of Energy, NOAA, USDA, and EPA would face drastic cuts, undermining their ability to support research that leads to the development of new technologies and industries that improve our quality of life, ensure our national security, and power our economy forward. The complete elimination of the Sea Grant program would have meaningful consequences for conservation efforts and the sustainable use of coastal, marine and Great Lakes resources. Even the NASA budget is cut in this proposal, including the complete elimination of the Space Grant program. The forecast for other research agencies, including the National Science Foundation, are unclear in this blueprint and we hope that their budgets will see needed increases for FY2018. Additionally, the zeroing out of the Manufacturing Extension Program (MEP) in the National Institute of Standards and Technology would be counterproductive to the goal of aiding manufacturing communities. MEP helps strengthen American manufacturing activities by making them more efficient and powerful engines of innovation.

“While the budget blueprint maintains level discretionary funding for the Pell program, a rescission of $3.9 billion from the surplus on top of a potential $1.2 billion rescission in Fiscal Year 2017 would fail to protect the long-term fiscal health of the program. This would also make it more challenging to bring back year-round Pell grants, which has bipartisan support in Congress, and would help low-income students graduate college sooner, with less debt, and enter the workforce more quickly.

“The new budget blueprint would further widen the gap of college access and completion among low-income, first generation students and more affluent ones. The elimination of the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant along with reductions in Work-Study, TRIO, and GEAR UP would deny the opportunity of a higher education to many of those who need our help the most. These cuts do not make long-term budgetary sense for the U.S. as a college education will provide low-income students with opportunities for economic mobility they otherwise would not have. With the help of these programs, those students would become graduates whose increased earnings would lead to more tax revenue and a far smaller demand on public services such as Medicaid, food, and housing assistance.

“The budget would also cut or eliminate Department of Education international education programs at a time when it’s never been more important to produce graduates who are prepared to compete globally. Further, the elimination of funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts would tear at the long-standing U.S. commitment to the advancement of our culture and society.

“For the past five years, the U.S. budget has been under the stress of sequestration. And while some temporary relief was offered in recent years, non-defense discretionary programs have remained underfunded with a seemingly perpetual target on their back.

“There is no question that the United States must ensure its military has the resources it needs to protect our nation, but it’s a false choice to argue that can only be achieved through deep cuts to non-defense discretionary programs, including education and research. These non-defense discretionary programs take up such a small percentage of the overall federal budget. Targeting them for cuts will not meaningfully address long-term budget issues, which need thoughtful attention. But they will severely and negatively impact the lives of many Americans and blunt economic growth.”

Read President McPherson’s statement urging Congress to pass FY 2017 appropriations with previously approved increased investments in research and higher education.

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