POTUS Budget Impact on Black People

Zaneta J Smith
Mar 26 · 3 min read

Now that we have had a couple of weeks to digest the news of Trump’s 2020 budget, let’s talk about what this means for the Black community in the US, particularly CA. The document titled, A Budget for a Better America, was released last week and proposes cuts in a number of areas. For the sake of brevity and ability to digest Trump’s priorities, I will focus on two departments:

  • Department of Education
  • Department of Agriculture

The Department of Education

The budget is calling to eliminate 21st Century Community Learning Centers. In California, these centers provide funding for programs (many after-school programs) to focus on academic achievement, enrichment, and family literacy. For example, May and Jim work full-time jobs. Neither of them are able to pick up their children from school due to their work schedule. They enroll them in an after-school program funded by the 21st Century Community Learning Centers with the thought that the children will gain assistance with homework and engage in academic enrichment until they can pick up their children. What will May and Jim do if the afterschool program is no longer funded?

The budget is also calling for the elimination of the Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP) which would cut money from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). The California Community Colleges has transfer agreements with certain HBCUs stating if students meet certain academic requirements, they will have a guaranteed transfer to participating HBCUs. These institutions lead the way in awarding degrees to Black students in life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics, and engineering.

Department of Agriculture

This department manages the Supplemental Assistance Nutrition Program (SNAP) commonly known as Food Stamps. In California, we call it CalFresh. Trump’s budget will require participants ages 18–65 to engage in 20 hours of work, work training, or community service in order to collect benefits. In addition, he proposes collaborating with America’s Harvest Box to deliver food (a portion of SNAP benefits) directly to households. Food would include, pasta, milk, cereal, peanut butter, beans, canned fruit, vegetables, meat, poultry, and fish. All food items will be American-grown.

There are many holes in this one. Trump’s camp could benefit from the design-thinking process by including SNAP users in the creation of this plan. First, between pesticides and genetically modified foods, it is challenging to trust any food that is American grown. I have been fortunate enough to travel internationally and while I do not drink whole milk and decrease my cheese intake in the States due to how my body reacts, I can drink milk and eat cheese in other countries and my stomach is not affected in negative ways. Second, delivering a box of food takes away the user’s choice to choose their own food. Perhaps, they don’t want canned fruit. Perhaps, they favor their fruits and veggies from a certain store or they are an expert at picking fruit. America’s Harvest Box eliminates this freedom. Now, if you let them choose what goes into their box, that is a different story. Fourteen percent of African-American households in California participate in the CalFresh program and would be affected if this part of the budget passes.

Thankfully, this is just a proposed budget. Nothing is written in stone and the budget has to be approved and/or rejected by a number of politicians before its implementation.

Consider perusing the document for yourself. Stay tuned folks. Continue following as I will provide updates: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/msar-fy2020.pdf

Zaneta J Smith

Written by

Coordinates operations of an African American civic engagement & public opinion research organization, the California Policy & Research Initiative. calpri.org