By Stanley Keasling, RCAC chief executive officer

The President has released what is called the skinny budget for FY 2018. As the President said in his first State of the Union Address, he is proposing a significant increase to the defense budget, which he intends to offset with cuts to domestic discretionary spending. I hope you have heard about the cuts to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development budget, and the proposed elimination of the Community Development Financial Institution fund. There are substantial cuts to U.S. Department of Agriculture, the elimination of the Community Services Block Grant and Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and much more. We don’t yet know how these proposals will be reflected in the final Continuing Resolution for FY 2017.

Please use the RCAC website as a resource to take action on the various proposals. There is detailed information about the rural housing and community development cuts here. We are posting draft letters for organizations to send to their representatives. We are also posting letters that are being circulated to Members of Congress in both the House and Senate that we would like to get as many signatures on as possible. You will need to reach out to your representatives to ask them to sign on to these important Dear Colleague letters.

The programs we use to improve the living conditions in rural America have substantial support in Congress. In fact, during the Obama presidency, we relied on our Republican and Democratic allies in the House and Senate to restore proposed cuts. I am confident that we can achieve the same outcome for next fiscal year, but we all need to do the work of securing support. Thank you for your efforts in support of continuing resources for rural America.