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Donnelly: Trump’s ‘America First’ Budget Puts CA Democrat Priorities Last, Border Security First

President Trump’s “America First” budget targets a number of controversial California programs and notorious agencies for heavy cuts or outright elimination—while increasing funding for border security and detention of criminal aliens.

The 62-page spending plan released Thursday outlines the president’s priorities to Congress—and this plan is likely to give supporters plenty to cheer—while making Democrats and political insiders groan.

Border security is one area that President Trump has put his money where his mouth is—almost $4.8 billion in increased border infrastructure (ie “the wall) and enforcement of immigration laws—saw a dramatic increase in funding, which will benefit California more than any other state.

  • $2.6 Billion to fund building the wall
  • $314 million to hire 500 more U.S. Border Patrol agents and 1,000 additional U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents
  • $15 million to make the E-Verify work authorization program mandatory
  • $1.5 billion over the prior year’s budget for detention and removal of unauthorized immigrants (this could mean larger-capacity detention centers, such as one in Adelanto in San Bernardino County).

One idea in Trump’s budget that has been less than popular with law enforcement is the proposed elimination of the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), which reimburses local sheriffs and police departments close to $210 million per year for detaining criminal aliens for more than 4 days in a local jail.  Every president since Clinton created the program has marked it for elimination, but so far it has survived—in large part because it has become a reliable funding stream for local law enforcement when state and country resources are scarce.

The bipartisan push-back on scrapping SCAAP in California will likely be fierce, because California—home to more criminal aliens than any other state—gets the lion’s share of the funding.

Sacramento Bee reported the hysterical reactions of California’s US Senators:

“This is the most draconian budget I’ve ever seen proposed by a president,” declared Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. “It’s an absolute travesty for California and every state or community that thought they had a true partner in the federal government.”

“It’s clear from this proposal, President Trump does not value government’s essential functions of public health, public safety, and public education,” said Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris.

According to an NPR report aired on 89.3 KPCC—which itself is targeted for elimination— President Trump wants to cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by almost a third (31 percent) and “put states in charge of enforcing federal environmental laws, which is a philosophy championed by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt.”

“We’re going to once again pay attention to the states across this country,” Pruitt told the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, KPCC reported. “They care about the air they breathe and they care about the water they drink, and we’re going to partner with those individuals, not adversaries.”

Trump’s budget states why this is a priority according to the NPR report—“This funding level eliminates or substantially reduces Federal investment in State environmental activities that go beyond EPA’s statutory requirements,” the budget reads.

In simple English, if states want to go above and beyond Federal EPA requirements, they’re welcome to do so—as long as they can fund it.

Trump’s focus on EPA funding is significant to California—since CalEPA gets almost 12% of its funding from the federal government—and sub-agencies like the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB), whose heavy-handed enforcement tactics could be dramatically curtailed by the cuts.

Other proposed cuts include $250 million to California to a teacher’s training program that did not meet the approval of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.  According to the LA Times, DeVos said, “Taxpayers deserve to know their dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively,” she said. “This budget is the first step in investing in education programs that work.”

The Sacramento Bee reports that “eliminating the Legal Services Corp., for instance, would save roughly $375 million while it would deprive California Rural Legal Assistance and the Fresno-based Central California Legal Services of roughly half of their total funding.

Some conservative farmers believe some lawyers funded by this program have engaged in political activism while ostensibly representing farm workers.

While California will be harder hit than any other state by the proposed cuts—with the elimination of some programs and severe cuts to others—there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.

By scaling back the size of funding to CalEPA and therefore cutting CARB and other job-killing bureaucracies, and actually securing the border rather than simply funding programs like SCAAP as token reimbursement for saddling California with the cost of not enforcing the border, perhaps President Trump is sending a signal that he’s serious about real-world results, not the “fake” ones favored by government program administrators—anxious to justify the existence of their programs.

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