In response to the Trump administration’s release last week of a blueprint for its FY2018 budget — entitled “America First, a Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again” — the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) has issued a press release cautioning against undue budget cuts, especially with regard to the Department of Interior.
Offsetting a $52 billion hike in defense spending in the current federal budget proposal, RVIA points out, is a 21% decrease in funding for the Department of Agriculture, a 12% paring of funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI) and a 16% cut to the Army Corps of Engineers.
The budget proposal, in effect, cuts $1.5 billion from the Department of Interior, including the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The funding cuts, according to the new administration, are ostensibly aimed at reducing unnecessary and duplicative programs and new federal land acquisitions while protecting public lands and increasing investment in deferred maintenance projects. However, RVIA in its release expresses concerns about the DOI’s ability to address a $12 billion maintenance backlog while absorbing a 12% budget cut.
“Investing in America’s great outdoors is imperative to safeguard the health of the $50 billion RV economy,” stated RVIA President Frank Hugelmeyer in the release. “At a time with a record number of RVs headed into the outdoors, steps should be taken to ensure adequate and safe infrastructure exists for this revenue-driving segment of the federal government. RVIA applauds proposals in the budget blueprint to increase investment in deferred maintenance projects and to leverage taxpayer investments with public and private partnerships. RVIA looks forward to working with Congress and the administration on the final budget to prioritize outdoor recreation, address the maintenance backlog and expand access to federal lands for RVers.”
The Department of Agriculture (USDA), including the U.S. Forest Service, is facing the largest proposed cut of $4.7 billion, RVIA points out, with the bulk of those cuts targeting food education programs, water and wastewater loan programs and unspecified staff reductions at USDA service center agencies. On the other hand, the budget does fully fund wildland fire preparedness and suppression activities.