Colorado federal agencies brace for historic Trump budget cuts
Author: John Tomasic - March 16, 2017 - Updated: March 16, 2017
President Trump’s “America First” budget blueprint, which proposes to boost military spending while historically slashing scientific research paid for through agency budgets, is meant in part to send a signal of “hard power” dedication to military might, according to administration officials, but it may cost many research and field jobs around the country and at home in Colorado, according to numbers gathered by Conservation Colorado working off of federal data.
Colorado is home to a host of federal agency offices. Conservation Colorado found that nearly 38,000 residents work as full-time employees for federal agencies here. Nearly 11,500 residents work for agencies conducting scientific research.
According to reports, the Department of the Interior budget would be slashed by $2 billion under the Trump plan. Funding that pays to maintain National Historic Sites would be eliminated. The Department of Interior employs 6,839 Coloradans. Divisions include the National Park Service, which employs 1,548 Coloradans; the Bureau of Land Management, which employs 1,030; the U.S. Geological Survey, which employs 1,124; the Bureau of Reclamation, which employs 1,109; and U.S. Fish and Wildlife, which employs 438 Coloradans.
The Environmental Protection Agency, derided by Trump on the campaign trail and the target of lawsuits filed by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt who was appointed by Trump to head the agency, would sustain a $2.6 billion cut, 31.5 percent of the agency’s budget, according to the blueprint.
Denver is home to the EPA’s regional 8 headquarters, which employs 610 Coloradans, hundreds of contractors, and oversees research and clean up operations across six Rocky Mountain and northern Great Plains states.
The blueprint also calls for the elimination of $250 million in grants for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA is headquartered in Boulder and employs 373 people and contracts with many more.
Trump’s broad-stroke blueprint contained few details, which the administration says it will deliver in the days to come. It’s uncertain how many jobs might be lost in Colorado due to downsizing. But the intent of the budget is clear.
Conservative group Freedom Works hailed the plan for being “an axe, not a scalpel.”
“This budget proposal is a serious attempt to trim the fat in many different bloated areas of the federal government,” the group said in a release. “We are in a very bad fiscal position since President Obama ran up the debt by trillions of dollars. We need an axe, not a scalpel, if we are ever going to reduce our debt.
“One immediate benefit of a budget mindset like this will be a reduced number of federal employees,” the group continued. “With fewer federal employees and President Trump’s regulatory freeze, it will be more difficult to overregulate the drivers of our economy.”
The Washington Post wrote Wednesday night that the budget blueprint represents a “seismic disruption.”
“The scientific endeavor across America depends to a large degree on competitive grants distributed by the federal agencies that face dramatic budget cuts,” wrote the Post. “Investment in research and development has been seen since World War II as critical to national prosperity and security.”