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Wide Ranging Impacts if President's Budget Approved

by Jennifer Gray

Jenn Burns Gray, Director of Advocacy and Public Relation

Policy discussions at both the federal and state level have significant implications for Maine’s nonprofit community, and MANP recommends action on several issues.

Federal Budget

President Trump recently released a high-level blueprint for his FY 2018 budget. The proposal contains top-line spending requests which include a $54 billion increase in defense spending and an equal level of cuts in domestic programs.

Cuts include the elimination of funding for several programs, including the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Legal Services Corporation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. Further detail isn’t expected until May after Congress finalizes the FY 2017 budget and addresses the Debt Limit.

On March 16, the Portland Press Herald provided a detailed examination of the blueprint and its projected impacts here in Maine. In addition, one of our members, The Maine Center for Economic Policy, shared its assessment. Both sources indicate that, if enacted, the budget would have deep and wide ranging impacts for Maine nonprofits.

The good news is that members of the President’s own party are speaking out against the proposal.  Former House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers of Kentucky called the proposal “dead on arrival.” Former Senator and Presidential nominee Bob Dole of Kansas raised immediate objections to requested cuts to school nutrition programs. Former Governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee of Arkansas penned an op-ed in The Washington Post entitled “A conservative plea for the National Endowment for the Arts.” Maine’s congressional delegation, including Republican Senator Susan Collins, have expressed concerns as well. It seems unlikely the proposal will move forward as originally crafted.

Johnson Amendment Update

Efforts to repeal or weaken the Johnson Amendment (the part of the Tax Code that prevent 501(c)(3) organizations from endorsing political candidates and making campaign contributions) were hot topics last week on Capitol Hill as foundation and nonprofit leaders made congressional visits during the annual Foundations on the Hill event.

Speakers acknowledged that this issue is a priority for the President and there is a real risk that language could be included in the Tax Reform Package this summer or that a bill could be considered sooner.  The National Council of Nonprofits provides the latest information on efforts to protect nonprofit nonpartisanship here.  We urge our members to join us in opposing such efforts.

State House Updates

  • The Taxation Committee is voting on its part of the budget this week including the Governor’s proposal to expand the sales tax to include recreation and amusement services.
  • The State and Local Government Committee will be holding a work session on LD 648 Wednesday which expands the range of nonprofits that can buy surplus property from the state prior to auction.
  • A proposal to significantly revise and simplify regulations concerning bingo/beano/raffles is being reviewed by the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee.
  • Next Monday, April 3, the Health and Human Services Committee will hold a public hearing on LD 967, which proposes to increase the reimbursement rates for services provided to MaineCare member adults with intellectual disabilities or autistic disorder under a waiver granted by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for home-based and community-based care. Community service providers are struggling to maintain staff at the existing rates. These providers are significant contributors to their communities and make a significant economic contribution to Maine’s rural communities where they are located.
  • Action: Testify in support of LD 967 (Rep. Herbig) An Act to Ensure Access to Community Services for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities or Autism, before the Health and Human Services Committee, Monday, April 3 at 9 a.m.

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