Building a border wall could be an economic boon for Arizona under President Donald Trump's budget proposal. New Times looks at other winners and losers.EXPAND
Building a border wall could be an economic boon for Arizona under President Donald Trump's budget proposal. New Times looks at other winners and losers.
U.S. Border Patrol

Here's What Trump's Proposed Budget Would Do for Arizona

President Donald Trump's proposed budget for 2018 would have a sweeping, large-scale effect on Arizona if approved by Congress.

"America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again," aims to eliminate tens of millions of dollars in federal funding received by Arizona for various agencies and programs, worrying various interest groups.

On the other hand, winners would include the U.S. Border Patrol, construction workers, veterans — and possibly Arizona's economy.

Overall, Trump's obsession with border security and infrastructure appear poised to provide a massive boost to the state, with the potential for hundreds of millions of dollars to flow into the state for new building projects.

Trump's planned border wall between Mexico and the United States, along with other border-security infrastructure, would receive an immediate $2.6 billion. A portion of that would clearly go to Arizona, which shares a 370-mile border with Mexico.

The security plan includes $314 million to recruit, hire, and train 500 new Border Patrol agents and 1,000 Customs and Border Protection officers for 2018, "plus associated support staff."

And that's just the beginning.

Trump has said repeatedly that he wants to hire 5,000 new Border Patrol agents and build new detention centers.

Officials with the Border Patrol's Tucson Sector declined comment about the proposal on Thursday. The sector now has about 3,700 agents.

In total, the Border Patrol employs nearly 21,000 agents on the southwest border, but has seen hiring shortfalls in the last few years.

Representatives of the National Border Patrol Council didn't return a message.

An additional $1.5 billion would be spent by federal agencies on "detention, transportation, and removal of illegal immigrants" for the remainder of 2017, the 62-page budget states. Arizona would get part of that, most likely, as well as part of another $171 million in 2017 to local law-enforcement agencies to help provide short-term detention space for federal detainees.

Money for 60 new border-enforcement prosecutors and 40 new deputy U.S. Marshals would be added. Another 20 attorneys would be funded to "to pursue federal efforts to obtain the land and holdings necessary to secure the Southwest border and another 20 attorneys and support staff for immigration litigation assistance," the budget states.

Jim Horn, general manager of Border Construction Specialties in Tucson, said he believes the border infrastructure spending and other Trump ideas would "absolutely" boost Arizona's economy. Helping the construction industry, which has always been crucial to Arizona, would in turn create more opportunities across the state.

"It will help everything across the board," said Horn, who's also a director with Arizona's Alliance Trade Association.

Phoenix New Times left a message with Governor Doug Ducey's office to get his take on the Trump plan, but no one called back.

Trump also wants to boost defense spending by $54 billion, the "cornerstone" of his plan, which would be good for Arizona's military bases. His budget specifically mentions keeping up the F-35 fighter jet program — that helps Luke Air Force Base in the West Valley, which is home to the Air Force's F-35 training facility.

Arizona will probably see an increase in funds for other programs. For instance, the proposed budget provides $4.6 billion in discretionary funding for Veterans Affairs health care. The Phoenix VA Health Care System was among the worst offenders of the VA health-care scandal that began in 2012; its former director, Sharon Helman, was ultimately fired and convicted of felony misconduct for falsifying records to hide problems.

However, the budget calls for a long list of cuts that are getting a lot of attention.

New Times' has compiled a list of many of the federal programs that would be canceled under Trump's plan, along with comparisons of 2016 revenues that were received by the state of Arizona for those programs. (Source for 2016 figures: Governor's Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting.) Those include:

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): More than $20 million in federal funds helped 34,745 people in Arizona pay their utility bills in 2016.

Community Service Block Grants: $5.4 million went to low-income Arizonans in 2016 to "improve basic living conditions."

State Criminal Alien Assistance Program: $5.6 million to Arizona in 2016. The money offsets the cost of imprisoning immigrants convicted of crimes. Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar has been leading a lobbying effort to increase funding for the program, which only pays about 18 percent of the expense of housing criminal immigrants. Last April, he introduced bipartisan legislation that would have provided more funding for the program.

"Border states, like my home of Arizona, are effectively being robbed by the federal government for having to face this immigration crisis on our own," he said at the time.

Trump's budget called the program "poorly targeted," and complains that "two-thirds of the funding primarily reimburses four States for the cost of incarcerating certain illegal criminal aliens."

Gosar didn't return messages on Thursday.

The program also sends money directly to counties. For example, Maricopa County received $737,649 in 2016, and Pima County received $213,593, state records show.

Mark Casey, spokesman for Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone, noted that SCAAP funds have been decreasing for years. In 2009, the county alone received more than $4 million in the funds.

"While we never want to lose funding, we'll adapt to these changes if in fact they come about, since this is still a proposal," Casey said.

Flood mitigation: $1.4 million to Arizona in 2016.

Emergency management performance grants: $5.1 million to Arizona in 2016.

Pre-disaster mitigation: $1.2 million to Arizona in 2016

AmeriCorps: $771,000 to Arizona in 2016.

The federal budget cut would kill the Americorps program in the United States, said Ben Olson, director of the AmeriCorps program Arizona Serve in Prescott.

The civil-service program was created by President Bill Clinton in 1993 and employs more than 75,000 people in full- and part-time positions nationwide.

"This year, there are 2,056 AmeriCorps members serving with 433 schools, nonprofits, and public agencies across Arizona," Olsen said. "AmeriCorps members address pressing community needs such as working to end veteran homelessness, providing literacy services to children, and ensuring low-ncome families have access to quality health care. Our program alone helped connect over 17,000 children and youth with education services such as tutoring, mentorship programs, and assistance getting into college."

Abandoned mine grants: $277,000 to Arizona in 2016 for the study of 191 mines. Trump's budget states that the mine grants "overlap with existing mandatory grants."

Superfund sites: Cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency means about one-third of the funds for Superfund sites, which are areas polluted with toxic materials that require intensive cleanup efforts. Arizona received $2.1 million in 2016.

Other cuts that would likely affect Arizona: The elimination of funds for National Wildlife Refuges, which are "duplicative" of other payments, according to the Trump budget.

Arizona has several federal wildlife refuges, including the expansive Buenos Aires and Cabeza Prieta lands in southern Arizona.

The cuts could mean closures to some of these areas, with corresponding loss of public access to popular hunting and fishing spots, said the Washington, D.C.-based Theodore Roosevelt Wildlife Partnership.

“With the magnitude of these cutbacks — 12 percent at the Department of the Interior alone — the conservation legacy left to us by Theodore Roosevelt and others would be undone very quickly, and the effects would be felt on public and private lands and waters in every corner of the nation,” says Whit Fosburgh, the partnership's president and CEO.

Although some NASA programs will see continued funding, the budget would kill plans for an Asteroid Redirect program, and a possible landing mission on Europa, one of Jupiter's moons.

The University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory would likely have contributed to both projects, said the lab's spokeswoman, Erin Morton.

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