President Barack Obama will release the fiscal 2011 budget today that will include a three-year spending “freeze” on certain discretionary government programs, starting in the fall.
The White House insists that it’s taking on this deficit-reduction task using a “scalpel” rather than a “hatchet.” Economic advisor Jared Bernstein said “a surgical approach [is] where overall totals are frozen but some individual programs go up and others go down.”
Youth work organizations will be looking to see if the programs they support will be put on ice or if their initiatives are among the administration’s priorities.
Spending for education, for instance, appears not to be heading for the meat locker – billions of dollars more may be requested, according to an early report – although that doesn’t mean smaller programs the administration deems ineffective won’t be targeted. The president also announced last week that he will request a $1.6 billion increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, which subsidizes child care services for low-income families, among other activities. Support for student loans is also expected to be a top priority.
Some were waiting to see the details before signing off on the president’s plans. Following the Jan. 27 State of the Union address, National Skills Coalition Executive Director Andy Van Kleunen issued a statement praising the president’s call for more funding for K-12 and higher education, but said “we question if his proposed freeze on domestic spending will make it impossible to expand technical training and basic literacy education for tens of millions of America’s workers who otherwise may not meaningfully participate in this recovery.”
Deborah Weinstein of the Coalition on Human Needs questioned walling off military spending from the freeze proposal, which “may mean some wasteful programs continue to be funded.”
Generational Alliance, a coalition of 13 youth organizations that advocates for low-income, minority and gay youth, said in a statement that young people face violence, lack of access to health care and other problems that require “action on more than just jobs and debt.” The statement added that “the steps the president and Congress take on these challenges will help determine if our communities ‘resurge’ in 2010 and beyond.”
The Child Welfare League of America said its top-five child welfare priorities this year are passing health care reform, authorizing the White House conference on children and youth, shrinking the foster care system, improving services for youth aging out of foster care and reducing the numbers of minority children and youth in both the child welfare and the juvenile justice systems.
Youth Today will be posting a budget chart this week online, fleshing out our existing coverage of 2010 spending legislation, which only passed in late December. But remember: the administration’s budget request is just that, a request. Congress will have final say in all spending decisions, which technically must be made by Oct. 1, 2010.