Trump’s Fiscal 2018 Budget Boosts Spending for Regulators: Report

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By Cheryl Bolen

President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget released in May proposes a 3.4 percent inflation-adjusted increase in spending for regulatory agencies, or twice the 1.7 percent increase estimated between fiscal 2016 and 2017 under President Barack Obama, an annual report finds.

The proposed 2018 regulators’ budget is $69.4 billion, compared with $65.9 billion in 2017 and $63.7 billion in 2016, according to an annual report published jointly by the Washington University in St. Louis and the George Washington University.

“Some agencies are budgeted for significant increases in both outlays and staff, while others face dramatic cuts,” the report said.

The report tracks the spending and staffing of 77 federal departments and agencies from fiscal 1960 to 2018.

EPA Cut Significantly

The Environmental Protection Agency, which often issues the most controversial and costly regulations, was targeted for sharp reductions in both outlays and staffing in the president’s budget.

The budget proposes a 26.2 percent reduction in EPA’s outlays, to $4.1 billion in 2018, down from $5.5 billion in fiscal 2017, the report said. If implemented, this would be EPA’s smallest budget since 1987, it said.

Likewise, EPA’s staff under the proposed 2018 budget would decline by 3,811 employees—from 15,500 to 11,689—a reduction of 24.6 percent, the report said. The last time the EPA employed fewer than 12,000 employees was 1984, it said.

In contrast, the budgets of several agencies within the Department of Homeland Security, particularly those focused on immigration, and the Transportation Security Administration are budgeted for increases of about 10 percent or more next year, the report said.

Obama Years Slower Than Bush’s

For the eight years between fiscal 2009 and 2017, which roughly conforms to Obama’s two terms in office, regulatory outlays increased by 13.3 percent or $6.8 billion, while staff levels increased by 7.4 percent or 19,345 people, the report said.

“This pace of growth in both regulatory outlays and staffing was slower than during President George W. Bush’s eight years in office,” the report said.

Most of the growth during the Obama years occurred in agencies responsible for economic regulation, such as the Federal Communications Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which saw their budgets grow by 40.7 percent, compared with the social regulatory agencies’ growth of 8.3 percent, the report said.

Economic regulation is more likely to be industry-specific, including finance, banking, and general business, and includes regulation of the transportation and energy industries, the report said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Cheryl Bolen in Washington at cbolen@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at pHendrie@bna.com

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