Proposed Budget Cuts Could Hurt Military Families Bigly
When the Administration’s budget proposal was released on March 15, the big news in the military community was the size of the Defense budget. As expected, the President is calling for large increases in military spending—an additional $54 billion. These funds would be used to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps and buy additional warships and fighter planes.
Good news, right? Well yes…and no.
As military family advocates (and military family members ourselves), we understand how important it is that service members are trained and equipped to do the vital work they’re tasked with.
We’re in favor of increasing funds to improve military readiness, as the Administration’s budget pledges to do.
However, we can’t overlook that the Administration proposes paying for increased military spending by severely cutting back on domestic programs, including many programs that military and veteran families rely on.
It’s important to remember that military families use many of the same programs and services their civilian neighbors and friends do. They send their children to public schools, and they seek help from nutrition assistance programs, like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Reducing funds for those programs risks hurting military families, and ultimately still hurts military readiness.
The President’s budget doesn’t offer much detail about its proposed spending decreases. However, we’re most concerned about these proposed cuts:
- $66 million from Department of Education Impact Aid. Impact Aid supports public school districts educating federally connected students, like military kids. It helps offset the decreased property tax revenue a district receives when it includes federal land, such as a military installation. A cut to Impact Aid means fewer funds to pay teacher salaries, buy classroom supplies, and maintain school buildings for districts serving military kids.
- $1.2 billion from summer and after school programs funded through the Department of Education.
- $200 million from WIC. WIC provides food assistance and nutrition education to pregnant moms and children under age five. Many young military families rely on WIC to help put healthy food on the table. Cutting this valuable assistance risks young military families’ financial readiness and well-being.
- $3 billion from Meals on Wheels. This program, which helps feed the elderly, serves nearly 500,000 veterans.
Increasing funding to the Department of Defense isn’t enough to ensure military family readiness. Just like their civilian neighbors and friends, military families need robust community programs and services to thrive. Cutting domestic services to fund military readiness is both short sighted and counterproductive.
We’re calling on Congress to keep military families’ needs in mind as they consider the President’s budget.
Posted March 22, 2017