President Obama Releases 2014 Budget Request
Transportation projects a key priority.
President Barack Obama recently released his fiscal year 2014 (FY14) federal budget request, which outlines the administration’s priorities for the upcoming federal fiscal year. This year’s proposal calls for about $3.77 trillion in federal government spending with new revenue from closing tax loopholes on the nation’s wealthiest individuals and corporations and spending cuts that would affect entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security.
The president’s budget proposal does have a number of items of interest to landscape architects. Below is a summary of some of those provisions by federal agency.
Department of Interior
Overall, the administration recommends $11.7 billion in spending for the Interior Department, a 4 percent increase above the fiscal 2012 level. Specifically, the budget requests $2.6 billion to support the critical conservation, preservation, and recreation mission of the National Park Service. This budget includes a total of $2.5 billion for National Park Service programs that support the President's America's Great Outdoors initiative, including $2.3 billion for national park operations, a total increase of $48.4 million over 2012. Key increases include $2 million to enhance sustainable and accessible infrastructure across the National Park System and $1 million to foster the engagement of youth in the great outdoors.
The president’s budget notably calls for full, guaranteed funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million per year, beginning in fiscal 2015. For fiscal 2014, the administration requested $356 million for federal land acquisition and $60 million for state grants. The budget also recommends allocating $15 million to reestablish the Urban Parks and Recreation Recovery program. Offsets for Interior’s budget gains would come from cuts to administrative costs such as travel, streamlining technology, and a call for a repeal of incentives that benefit the oil and gas industry.
Department of Transportation
The president’s proposed Department of Transportation (DOT) budget of $76 billion represents a 5.5 percent, or $4 billion, spending increase over 2012 levels. This funding request represents the administration’s request to fully fund the recently adopted surface transportation law, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21). The DOT budget also calls for an additional $50 billion for immediate investments to support critical infrastructure projects, such as improving America’s roads, bridges, transit systems, border crossings, railways, and runways. This includes $40 billion in “fix-it-first” investments for improving existing infrastructure assets and $10 billion to help encourage state and local innovation in infrastructure development through competitive grant programs like TIGER.
About his proposed transportation budget, President Obama has stated, “These investments would create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the first few years and in industries suffering from protracted unemployment.”
Environmental Protection Agency
The president’s budget recommends cutting overall Environmental Protection Agency funding by $296 million, or 3.5 percent, from fiscal 2012 levels. Under the proposal, the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs) would take the brunt of the cuts, with funding reduced by $472 million to a combined $1.9 billion. The administration seeks to target funding for the SRFs to “small and underserved communities with limited ability to repay loans.”
Housing and Urban Development
HUD would receive $47.6 billion in the president’s plan, an increase of 9.7 percent from 2012. The Community Development Block Grant Program would receive $3 billion and a new Integrated Planning and Investment Grant from the Office of Sustainable Communities would continue the work done by previous Community Challenge Grants.
Centers for Disease Control: Under the president's budget proposal, the overall CDC budget authority would be cut by $439 million, with the Community Transformation Grant program funded at $146 million, down from $226 million in FY 2012.
Small Business Administration: The budget would also eliminate fees for SBA loans under $150,000. Recently, SBA Associate Administrator Jeanne Hulit noted that borrowing demand has started to recover after slipping during the recession, but not for small-dollar loans. The administration is hoping the fee waivers will help fill that lingering gap in the loan market.
ASLA will continue to monitor the president’s budget proposal and the congressional appropriations process to determine how FY14 spending priorities will evolve.
For more on ASLA’s federal priorities, visit www.asla.org/advocacy.