Paul Ryan’s Budget Would Eliminate Programs That Serve His Own Constituents

CREDIT: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his new Fiscal Year 2015 budget on Tuesday, promising a “path to prosperity.” While most of the $5.1 trillion he proposes to cut from the federal budget over the next ten years are from various policy changes, a ThinkProgress review of just a few of the specific programs Ryan singles out for total elimination would hurt constituents in his own Congressional district.

Ryan’s district includes the southern suburbs of Milwaukee, from Janesville in the west, to Waukesha in the north, and to Kenosha in the southeast. Many of the federal programs he recommends be ended have directly benefited Milwaukee and the cities of his own district in recent years. They include:

Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services: Ryan suggests that elimination of this independent agency and its grants to museums and libraries across the country. But in 2013 alone, his constituents benefited from a $444,906 Laura Bush 21st Century Librarians Program grant for the University of Wisconsin System, Graduate School in Milwaukee and a $150,000 grant for collections stewardship for the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Community Development Fund: Ryan would like to get rid of the program and its Community Development Block Grant program. The program provides aid to “cities, urban counties and states to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment, and by expanding economic opportunities, principally for low- and moderate-income persons.” Among the beneficiaries in Wisconsin are Janesville, Kenosha, Racine, and Waukesha County. Indeed, since 1974, the City of Racine alone has received more than $69 million in CDBG funding to “benefit low and moderate-income persons or to aid in the elimination of slums and blight.”

Amtrak: Ryan proposes to eliminate all Amtrak Operating Subsidies. More than 838,000 people ride on the Hiawatha line between Milwaukee and Chicago annually, though it has required significant state aid.

The National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting: As part of Ryan’s effort to “encourage private funding for cultural agencies,” he argues that public support of the arts and Big Bird “can no longer be justified.” In 2012, the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System received $280,000 from the NEH for digitization and storage of “35,000 cellulose acetate photographic negatives and 60,000 linear feet of motion picture film that document the world’s vistas, landscapes, streetscapes, flora, fauna, and humans as they appeared, worked, lived, and modified their environments.” The NEA provided tens of thousands of dollars to support the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha (2013), the Racine Art Museum Association (2009-2012), and the Ten Chimneys Foundation in Genesee Depot (2011-2012). And public television and radio stations in the Milwaukee area received more than $4 million in CPB funding in 2012 alone.

While district-wide specifics are not available for the Corporation for National and Community Service, which Ryan also proposes be eliminated, it estimates that more than 14,000 people provide services in more than 1,500 Wisconsin locations to “tutor and mentor children, support veterans and military families, provide health services, restore the environment, respond to disasters, increase economic opportunity, and recruit and manage volunteers.”