If it seems like we just finished talking about the FY15 budget, we did! But in Washington the federal budget has become a year-round discussion. Actually, it has become so difficult to adopt a federal budget that we simply adopt “continuing resolutions” and perhaps an “omnibus bill” every once in a while. So, while the FY15 budget essentially left every federal agency flat, the President has stepped way out of the box in his proposal for FY16, recommending increases in nearly every federal agency. Of course, his budget is doa (dead on arrival) in a Congress now controlled by the Republicans, especially considering the budget contains tax increases to pay for the spending increases.
Yet, the President’s budget proposal is the only thing we have to go on at this time so it deserves some attention. Let’s take a look.
The President has proposed a 7 percent increase in the OSHA budget, increasing spending from the current $552.8 million to $592.1 million in fiscal 2016. While nearly every category received some sort of increase, notables ones are –
+ $17,800,000 for Federal Enforcement
+ $ 5,128,000 for the whistleblower program
+ $ 3,487,000 for State Programs (state plan funding)
+ $ 4,611,000 for Federal Compliance Assistance
+ $ 3,306,000 for Safety and Health Standards
+ $ 4,513,000 for Safety and Health Statistics
$0 increase for State Consultations/Compliance Assistance
Interesting that the President didn’t provide any increase at all for state compliance assistance; yet it probably makes no difference as this budget proposal is not likely to be the final appropriation.
The President has once again targeted NIOSH as an area where he believes cuts are required. That means we have our job cut out for us again to educate Congress on why NIOSH is so important. There are those on the Hill and in the Administration who simply don’t understand that NIOSH is the sole federal government agency conducting occupational safety and health research.
A look at the NIOSH budget –
The President proposed cutting the existing NIOSH spending level of $334.9 million to $283.4 million in fiscal 2016, a $51.5 million reduction in spending. What’s interesting in this proposal is that nearly every line item in the NIOSH budget received zero change except for two –
Education Research Center funding would be cut to zero
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing Programs would be cut to zero
This is, I believe, the fifth year in a row the President has recommended to zero out funding for the ERCs and the AFF program. Can we once again succeed in retaining this funding? We shall see. My take is that if Congress decides to actually adopt a federal budget this year there will be no better than a 50-50 chance of saving this funding. However, if Congress ends up adopting a Continuing Resolution and a final
Omnibus Spending Bill, we probably have a 90 percent chance of saving the funding.
Other notable budgets
Mine Safety and Health Administration -- 5% increase to $394.9 million
Chemical Safety and Hazard Board -- 12% increase to $12.3 million
OSH Review Commission -- 13.8% increase to $13.2 million
Environmental Protection Agency -- $492 million increase to $8.6 billion