On February 12, 2018, the Trump administration released its fiscal year 2019 budget proposal. The president proposes a much-needed financial commitment to fighting the opioid epidemic that is plaguing communities across the country. Social workers are on the front lines of the battle against opioid abuse, which has claimed the lives of thousands of New Yorkers, and NASW-NYS applauds the president in recognizing the severity of the opioid crisis and taking steps to conquer this public health challenge.
Unfortunately, the president’s proposal leaves a lot to be desired in terms of his proposed cuts and rollbacks to social programs that have helped protect millions of senior citizens, children, people with disabilities, and low-income families. Specifically, his proposal includes: a 22% cut to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, which provides food access to more than 42 million Americans annually (already a meager average of $125/month for recipients); a 14% cut to the Department of Housing and Urban Development; and a $250 billion dollar cut (over the next 10 years) to Medicaid.
NASW-NYS is also deeply concerned by his proposed revisions to income-based loan repayment options and the elimination of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. The current income-based repayment options allow individuals to pay as little as 10% of their discretionary income, while the proposed replacement program would cap payments at 12.5% of one’s income, and graduate student loan borrows could not seek loan forgiveness until 30 years in the plan. The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program – a program which allows former students who fulfill certain public service positions, including social work positions, to have their loans forgiven, tax-free, after 10 years of payments – helps make public service a more attainable career option by allowing social workers to manage their student loan debt as they dedicate their careers to serving others. Ending this program could cause a dire staff shortage for public service fields.
NASW-NYS has always fought for the safety and respect of our social workers and the populations that we serve, and we will continue to advance sound policies that will protect the social work profession and invest in our communities.