After a lengthy delay, President Obama finally released his Fiscal Year 2014 budget. The House and Senate have already passed their respective budget resolutions and no efforts to reconcile them are expected, so the President’s budget will not have an impact on the Congressional budget process. Still, the budget’s release lays down an important marker for budget negotiations going forward by identifying the President’s priorities and by proposing several key new initiatives.
Overall the budget reduces the federal deficit by $1.8 trillion over the next decade while replacing the sequestration cuts that have gone into effect with a combination of increased tax revenues and spending cuts. On the revenue side the budget establishes minimum tax rates for those earning more than $1 million (the so-called “Buffet Rule”), raises taxes on carried interest, caps itemized deductions, and increases cigarette taxes. With respect to spending, the budget would slow the growth in Social Security benefits (known as “chained CPI”), increase some Medicare premiums while cutting reimbursements to drug companies and providers, reduce defense spending, and eliminate agricultural subsidies.
Obama’s budget includes a number of positive proposals for children. It implements the President’s universal preschool initiative by increasing funding by $1.6 billion for Head Start, child care, and home visitation programs while creating a new $750 million Preschool Development Grant program to partner with states in expanding high quality early learning access. There is also a new $130 million initiative to bolster mental health treatment and prevention for youth and young adults to make sure those afflicted are able to access needed services. Promise Neighborhoods and juvenile justice programs receive significant funding boosts while modest increases are also provided to the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program and for family planning.
The budget includes several legislative proposals to improve outcomes for foster children. A new $12 million grant program is created to address teen pregnancy in the foster youth population. Youth in foster care have much higher rates of teen pregnancy than their peers and there are currently no federal funds dedicated specifically to this population. Another proposal prevents states from using child support payments on behalf of foster kids to offset state child welfare costs and instead requires the state to use the funds in the best interests of the child. Finally, there is a new $10 million grant program created to help victims of domestic sex trafficking, the majority of whom have spent time in the foster care system.
Unfortunately the budget does cut a few important programs. The Community Services Block Grant is reduced by about half. Other smaller decreases are included for the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, community health centers, early intervention services for infants and families through IDEA, and substance abuse treatment and prevention.
*****Update: See the new CWLA Federal Budget Chart for FY 2014. This chart follows over fifty separate federal programs and shows the funding level for FY 2013 and the requested level in the President’s FY 2014 budget.