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President’s stark budget cuts library funding

On Tuesday, the President released his FY 2018 Budget submission to Congress and it is as bad as we had feared. The “safety net” would be greatly reduced under this budget as many programs that allow Americans to improve their education and career opportunities – often through libraries – would be dramatically reduced or, in many cases, eliminated. The good news (if there is a silver lining) is that this budget is “DOA” in Congress. As one senior Republican summed up to a reporter this week: “Last I checked, under the Constitution, Congress passes budgets.”

That doesn’t mean we can relax — far from it. Some Members of Congress can be expected to use this budget as justification to seek cuts in many of these programs even if not as deep as the President’s request.

ALA issued a statement yesterday morning from ALA President Julie Todaro.

The Washington Office is still looking through the hundreds of pages of documents, spreadsheets, justifications, charts and analysis, but I wanted to cover a few of the top line numbers related to libraries that you might want to know about ASAP.

The top line number are not good. The Department of Education overall budget is reduced 13.5%; Department of Labor is reduced 19.8%; IMLS is effectively eliminated. Below is a list of programs that libraries participate in and are addressed in the budget:

IMLS: Institute of Museum and Library Services
FY 2017 $230 million
FY 2018 $23 million
-90%, effectively eliminated
Administration justification for elimination: “IMLS provides funding to museums and libraries across the country through formula and competitive grant awards. IMLS provides $156 million in formula funds to State Library Administrative Agencies and administers several smaller competitive grant programs for libraries and museums that fund activities such as scholarships for librarian training and digital resources to support educational, employment, and other training opportunities. IMLS’s funding supplements local, State, and private funds, which provide the vast majority of funding to museums and libraries. Furthermore, given that IMLS primarily supports discrete, short-term projects as opposed to operation-sustaining funds, it is unlikely the elimination of IMLS would result in the closure of a significant number of libraries and museums.”

Independent Agencies
National Endowment for the Humanities
FY 17 $148 million
FY 18 $42 million
Change: -72%

National Endowment for the Arts
FY 17 $148 million
FY 18 $29 million
Change: -80%

NSF: National Science Foundation
FY 17 $7.449 billion
FY 18 $6.654 billion
Change: -11%

FCC: Federal Communications Commission
FY 17 $504 million
FY 18 $437 million
Change: -13%

National Archives and Records Administration
FY 17 $377 million
FY 18 $351 million
Change: -7%

Department of Education
Innovative Approaches to Literacy
FY 17 $27 million
FY 18 $0
Change: Eliminated

Striving Readers (Comprehensive Literacy Development Grants)
FY 17 $190 million
FY 18 $0
Change: Eliminated

Title I (Grants to LEAs)
FY 17 $15.5 billion
FY 18 $14.9 billion
Change: 3.87%

Impact Aid
(Provides local schools funding in counties with large tax-exempt federal lands)
FY 17 $1.303 billion
FY 18 $1.236 billion
Change: -5.1%

21st Century Community Learning Centers
(Some libraries participate in various programs)
FY 17 $1.164 billion
FY 18 $0
Change: Eliminated

Student Financial Assistance Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants
FY 17 $732 million
FY 18 $0
Change: Eliminated

Student Financial Assistance Federal Work Study
FY 17 $988 million
FY 18 $500 million
Change: -49.4%

Public Service Loan Forgiveness
(College graduates working for several years in qualified public service positions including public libraries can be eligible for student debt assistance starting in 2018)
Change: Eliminated

Title IV Part A – Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants
(Well-Rounded Education program created under ESSA and authorizes library to participate)
FY 17 $400 million (newly created)
FY 18 $0
Change: Eliminated

Department of Labor
Employment Services/One-Stop Career Centers
(Some libraries participate in local programs)
FY 17 $767 million
FY 18 $503 million
Change: -34.4 %

Career and Technical Education State Grants and National Activities
(Some libraries participate in CTE programs)
FY 17 $1.123 billion
FY 18 $977 million
Change: -13%

Executive Office of President
OSTP: Office of Science and Technology Policy
FY 17 $6 million
FY 18 $6 million
Change: 0%

Department of Health and Human Services
National Library of Medicine
FY 17 $394
FY 18 $373
Change: -5.3%

Administration for Children and Families
(Some libraries participate in local programs)
FY 17 $19.285 billion
FY 18 $14.482 billion
Change: -24.9%

Department of Commerce
NTIA: National Telecommunication and Information Administration
FY 17 $40
FY 18 $36
Change: -10%

I am still researching the budget documents for other funding levels and what they mean for the library community. Programs that some libraries may be participating in and are likely to see significant reductions include afterschool, food or snack programs, Government Publishing Office, Library of Congress, and others.

Long story short… we have our work cut out. Remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

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Kevin Maher

Kevin Maher is the deputy director of government relations at the American Library Association’s Washington Office. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Before coming to the ALA in 2014, Kevin was the vice president of government affairs for the American Hotel and Lodging Association for 20 years.

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