NEWS

2017 Federal Budget decreases funding for Pre-Disaster Mitigation program

President Obama delivered his fiscal 2017 federal budget to Congress in early February, where it has already faced criticism from the Republican-controlled legislature; according to Speaker Paul Ryan, the budget reads as a “progressive manual.” President Obama justifies the spending requests in the opening message of the budget as “critical investments…meeting our greatest challenges not only for the year ahead, but for decades to come.” The budget reflects this mission with $19 billion allocated to cybersecurity initiatives (a 35% increase over the 2016 budget), and a focus on the environment and climate change.

US Capitol
US Capitol (Wikimedia Commons/Architect of the Capitol)

In contrast, FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) program was cut by nearly half, from $100 million allocated in 2016 to $54 million in the proposed 2017 budget. The PDM program supports nationwide projects and plans that prevent or reduce future damage, with the ultimate goal being to preemptively reduce the need for federal spending after a disaster occurs. The text of the 2017 budget itself acknowledges the benefits of the cut program, stating, “…Americans save approximately $4 for every dollar invested in pre-disaster mitigation,” referencing an independent study by the Multihazard Mitigation Council.

Funds from the PDM program have been used across the country in a wide variety of projects within the last year. Among other grants, over $34,000 was granted for the purchase of an emergency generator for an essential hospital and medical center.

Sources and Further Reading:

Obama’s Last Budget, and Last Budget Battle With Congress – The New York Times

Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program – FEMA

Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves – Multihazard Mitigation Council

FEMA Approves over $300,000 in Mitigation Funds for Emergency Generator at Juan Luis Hospital – The Virgin Islands Consortium