Indian affairs receives 1.2 increase in fiscal 2015 budget request

By Ryan McDermott, Fierce Government

washburn_aaaBureau of Indian Affairs programs would receive a 1.2 percent increase over this year’s enacted amount under the White House budget proposal for the next fiscal year.

The budget request totals $2.6 billion for Indian Affairs – $33.6 million more than fiscal 2014 enacted, said Interior Department Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn during a Senate Indian Affairs Committee Wednesday hearing.

 

Tribal self-determination and self-governance programs have eclipsed direct service by the Indian Affairs Bureau at DOI, Washburn said.

More than 62 percent of the appropriations are provided directly to tribes and tribal organizations through grants, contracts and compacts for tribes to operate government programs and schools, Washburn said.

 

But committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said the budget request isn’t enough.

 

“Every line item is deficient,” Tester said. “1.2 percent is not right. This needs some work.”

 

He said the percentage increase for Indian Affairs pale in comparison to increases at other part of the DOI. The National Park Service request is for 22.2 percent more than this year and the Land Management Bureau request is 6.1 percent more.

 

But Washburn argued that Indian Affairs budgets under Obama have been larger in the last five years than another other parts of the DOI. The BIE budget request for fiscal 2015 makes up $2.6 billion of the agency’s $11 million total request.

 

Other parts of the DOI might see a larger percentage increase under the request, Washburn said, but they make up much smaller parts of the agency so the comparison is apple to oranges.

 

For more:
go to the hearing page (webcast and prepared tstimony available)

 

Obama Proposes $33.6M for Indian Country in FY 2015 Budget

 

On Tuesday Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget request of $11.9 billion dollars for the Department of the interior. The 2015 budget request represents an increase of 2.4 percent from 2014 or $33.6 million dollars to support Indian country initiatives such as land and water conservation, strengthening tribal nation relations, renewable energy development and expanding employment opportunities for Native youth.

“The President’s balanced and responsible budget strategy supports the pivotal role this Department plays as a driver of jobs and economic activity in communities across the country,” said Jewell in a DOI release.

“The budget enables the Interior to carry out its important missions and contains key proposals to uphold our trust responsibilities to American Indians and Alaska Natives, provide a new approach for responsibly budgeting for wild land-fire-suppression needs, invest in climate resilience, and bolster our national parks and public lands in advance of the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary in 2016,” she said.

Jewell also stated that President Obama will continue to support full, permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which she said was “one of the Nation’s most effective tools for expanding access for hunting and fishing, creating ball fields and other places for children to play and learn, and protecting Civil War battlefields.”

“We are very pleased to see the administration’s continuing commitment to Indian country in a time of tight budgetary constraints, said Bill Anoatubby, Governor of the Chickasaw Nation in an email to ICTMN. “We are hopeful that the proposed budget will have a positive impact on the lives of Native Americans.”

According to the DOI, funding from the U.S. Government to Indian country is not one-sided. The Interior’s programs and activities contributed an estimated $371 billion to the economy in 2012 and supported another estimated 2.3 million jobs in the U.S.

The DOI also stated that the Interiors programs continue to generate an excess of revenue for the American people monetarily above their annual appropriation. In 2015, the DOI estimates receipts of nearly copy4.9 billion. A portion of these funds will be shared with State and local governments for school funding, infrastructure improvements and water-conservation projects.

In the confines of the 2015 budget, the DOI also proposes revenue and savings legislation that is estimated to generate over $2.6 billion in the next 10 years.

Specific initiatives in the budget geared toward strengthening tribal nations include a $34 million dollar increase from 2014. These monies provide support to fund social services, economic development, sustainable stewardship of natural resources and community safety in Indian country.

The budget also includes directives to improve educational outcomes in Indian country by providing $79 million for elementary, secondary and post-secondary education programs. The increases are $46 million in 2015 to support the Bureau of Indian Education and its associated programs.

Improving and increasing access to health care in communities includes $4.6 billion for Indian Health Service (IHS) with an additional Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative that includes an additional $200 million for the construction of IHS health care facilities.

There will also be a $5.23 billion budget over the next 10 years to support the training of 13,000 new residents in a medical education program that incentivizes physician training; $3.95 billion will be budgeted over the next six years to scale up the National Health Services Corps to place 15,000 health care providers annually in the areas that need them most.

Additional budgeted monies include non-specified resources to support the Affordable Health Care act, $650 million for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Native American Housing Block Grant program, $395 million for Department of Justice (DOJ) public safety initiatives in Indian country and $352 million for Public Safety and Justice programs funded by the BIA.

Kevin Brown, who is chief of the Pamunkey Tribe in Virginia and stands on a promising threshold to become federally recognized by 2015, said he is encouraged by the budget increase as a recognition as to the importance of the viability of Indian country.

“All of this sounds promising as well as encouraging,” Brown said. “If I am not mistaken, I also believe there are line items in the BIA’s budget which allows for the allocation of funds of newly federally recognized tribes. I’d like to be able to secure some of that funding.

“All of my time has been volunteered, my assistant chief volunteers as well as my secretary. I’d like to get broadband, and have a computer for the tribal office to get connected to the world.”

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/03/09/obama-proposes-336m-indian-country-fy-2015-budget-153918

Republicans Back Down, Ending Crisis Over Shutdown and Debt Limit

Doug Mills/The New York TimesSpeaker John A. Boehner before voting Wednesday night. He told his members to hold their heads high, go home and regroup.

Doug Mills/The New York Times
Speaker John A. Boehner before voting Wednesday night. He told his members to hold their heads high, go home and regroup.

By Jonathan Weisman and Ashley Parker, New York Times

WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans conceded defeat on Wednesday in their bitter budget fight with President Obama over the new health care law as the House and Senate approved last-minute legislation ending a disruptive 16-day government shutdown and extending federal borrowing power to avert a financial default with potentially worldwide economic repercussions.

With the Treasury Department warning that it could run out of money to pay national obligations within a day, the Senate voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday evening, 81 to 18, to approve a proposal hammered out by the chamber’s Republican and Democratic leaders after the House on Tuesday was unable to move forward with any resolution. The House followed suit a few hours later, voting 285 to 144 to approve the Senate plan, which would fund the government through Jan. 15 and raise the debt limit through Feb. 7.

Mr. Obama signed the bill about 12:30 a.m. Thursday.

Most House Republicans opposed the bill, but 87 voted to support it. The breakdown showed that Republican leaders were willing to violate their informal rule against advancing bills that do not have majority Republican support in order to end the shutdown. All 198 Democrats voting supported the measure.

Mr. Obama, speaking shortly after the Senate vote, praised Congress, but he said he hoped the damaging standoff would not be repeated.

“We’ve got to get out of the habit of governing by crisis,” said Mr. Obama, who urged Congress to proceed not only with new budget negotiations, but with immigration changes and a farm bill as well. “We could get all these things done even this year, if everybody comes together in a spirit of, how are we going to move this country forward and put the last three weeks behind us?”

After the House vote, officials announced that the federal government would reopen on Thursday and that federal employees should return to work.

The result of the impasse that threatened the nation’s credit rating was a near total defeat for Republican conservatives, who had engineered the budget impasse as a way to strip the new health care law of funding even as registration for benefits opened Oct. 1 or, failing that, to win delays in putting the program into place.

The shutdown sent Republican poll ratings plunging, cost the government billions of dollars and damaged the nation’s international credibility. Mr. Obama refused to compromise, leaving Republican leaders to beg him to talk, and to fulminate when he refused. For all that, Republicans got a slight tightening of income verification rules for Americans accessing new health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act.

“We fought the good fight,” said Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, who has struggled to control the conservative faction in the House, in an interview with a Cincinnati radio station. “We just didn’t win.”

In a brief closed session with his Republican rank and file, Mr. Boehner told members to hold their heads high, go home, get some rest and think about how they could work better as a team.

Two weeks of relative cohesion broke down into near chaos on Tuesday when Republican leaders failed twice to unite their troops behind a last-gasp effort to prevent a default on their own terms. By Wednesday, House conservatives were accusing more moderate Republicans of undercutting their position. Representative Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania, a leading Republican voice for ending the fight, said Congress should have passed a bill to fund the government without policy strings attached weeks ago.

“That’s essentially what we’re doing now,” Mr. Dent said. “People can blame me all they want, but I was correct in my analysis and I’d say a lot of those folks were not correct in theirs.”

Under the agreement to reopen the government, the House and Senate are directed to hold talks and reach accord by Dec. 13 on a long-term blueprint for tax and spending policies over the next decade. Mr. Obama said consistently through the standoff that he was willing to have a wide-ranging budget negotiation once the government was reopened and the debt limit raised.

Mr. Boehner and his leadership team had long felt that they needed to allow their restive conference to pitch a battle over the president’s health care law, a fight that had been brewing almost since the law was passed in 2010. Now, they hope the fever has broken, and they can negotiate on issues where they think they have the upper hand, like spending cuts and changes to entitlement programs.

But there were no guarantees that Congress would not be at loggerheads again by mid-January, and there is deep skepticism in both parties that Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin and Senator Patty Murray of Washington, who will lead the budget negotiations, can bridge the chasm between them.

“This moves us into the next phase of the same debate,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Democrat. “Our hope is now that Speaker Boehner and his caucus have played out their scenario with a tragic outcome, perhaps they’ll be willing to be more constructive.”

As Republican lawmakers left the closed meeting Wednesday, some were already thinking of the next fight.

“I’ll vote against it,” said Representative John C. Fleming, Republican of Louisiana, referring to the Senate plan. “But that will get us into Round 2. See, we’re going to start this all over again.”

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader who was instrumental in ending the crisis, stressed that under the deal he had negotiated with the majority leader, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the across-the-board budget cuts extracted in the 2011 fiscal showdown remained in place over the objections of some Democrats, a slim reed that not even he claimed as a significant victory.

The deal, Mr. McConnell said, “is far less than many of us hoped for, quite frankly, but it’s far better than what some had sought.”

“Now it’s time for Republicans to unite behind other crucial goals,” he added.

Chastened Senate Republicans said they hoped the outcome would be a learning experience for the lawmakers in the House and the Senate who shut down the government in hopes of gutting the health law, Mr. Obama’s signature domestic achievement. Instead of using the twin issues of government funding and borrowing authority to address the drivers of the federal deficit, conservatives focused on a law they could never undo as long as Mr. Obama is president, several lawmakers said.

“Goose egg, nothing, we got nothing,” said Representative Thomas H. Massie, Republican of Kentucky.

Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina took a swipe at his fellow Republican senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, as well as House members who linked government financing to defunding the health care law, which is financed by its own designated revenues and spending cuts.

“Let’s just say sometimes learning what can’t be accomplished is an important long-term thing,” Mr. Burr said, “and hopefully for some of the members they’ve learned it’s impossible to defund mandatory programs by shutting down the federal government.”

While Mr. Cruz conceded defeat, he did not express contrition.

“Unfortunately, the Washington establishment is failing to listen to the American people,” he said as he emerged from a meeting of Senate Republicans called to ratify the agreement.

For hundreds of thousands of federal workers across the country furloughed from their jobs, the legislative deal meant an abrupt end to their forced vacation as the government comes back to life beginning Thursday.

In a statement late Wednesday, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, made the reopening official.

“Employees should expect to return to work in the morning,” she said, adding they should check news reports and the Office of Personnel Management’s Web site for updates.

For Mr. Boehner, who had failed to unite his conference around a workable plan, Wednesday’s decision to take up the Senate bill proved surprisingly free of conflict. Hard-line Republican lawmakers largely rallied around the speaker.

Representative Raúl R. Labrador of Idaho, said he was “really proud” of how Mr. Boehner had handled the situation. “I’m more upset with my Republican conference, to be honest with you,” he said.

 

Michael D. Shear contributed reporting.

Gov. Inslee signs $33.6 billion state budget

Rachel La Corte, The Herald

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee signed a new two-year budget on Sunday, averting a government shutdown that state officials had been planning for in case the new spending plan wasn’t in place by the end of the weekend.

The $33.6 billion operating budget was the key item among more than a dozen bills signed by Inslee, just a day after the Legislature adjourned for the year after two overtime legislative sessions.

“We’ve done some good things in tough times, and I’m glad we found compromise so that the work of the state of Washington will continue,” Inslee said before signing the budget.

His signature came just hours before the end of the current budget cycle. Thousands of state workers had been warned last week that they could face temporary layoffs because much of state government would need to shut down if a budget plan wasn’t in place by midnight Sunday.

It’s been more than 20 years since a governor signed a budget this late in the process. Lawmakers were supposed to complete the spending plan in April but got delayed by a series of disputes over tax, spending and policy proposals.

The final operating budget added $1 billion to the state’s education system and provided enough money to universities so that tuition would remain at current levels.

“We really are prioritizing education over other parts of government,” said Republican Sen. Andy Hill of Redmond, who was the chief budget negotiator in the Senate.

A year ago, the Washington Supreme Court ruled in what is known as the McCleary case that the state is not fulfilling its constitutional duty to pay for basic education and is relying too much on school districts to raise extra dollars through local levies. The justices want to see the Legislature pay for previously adopted education reforms and proof of yearly progress toward completing the work by 2018.

Inslee and other lawmakers noted that the money put toward education in this budget is only a down payment on that obligation.

“We have long-term funding challenges for education, and I hope we will address those in a more systematic way in the years to come,” Inslee said.

The new budget, which runs through mid-2015, didn’t include much of the new revenue options initially proposed by Inslee — he had sought to limit or close a variety of tax breaks — but it did save or raise some money by making changes in estate and phone taxes, largely in response to court rulings.

The budget includes some cuts, including another suspension of voter-approved cost-of-living increases for school employees, saving $320 million. Budget writers also booked $30 million in savings from the implementation of lean management practices.

About $500 million of the budget is funded by a variety of transfers, with the largest chunk coming from the state’s public works assistance account that helps support local projects — a shift that irked local government leaders.

The plan also creates or extends some tax breaks, benefiting the beekeeper industry, nonprofit gun clubs who purchase clay targets, dance venues and renewable energy. Those tax breaks were among the bills signed by Inslee on Sunday. Also signed was a measure to start a long-term effort to help manage water in the Yakima River Basin.

House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, said he was most proud of the money put toward education, as well as a Medicaid expansion under President Barack Obama’s health care law.

“This budget means so much to so many people’s lives,” Chopp said after the bill signing.

Inslee vetoed more than a dozen sections of the budget, including a handful of studies or reports from various agencies for which no funding existed, including the study of a the long-term effectiveness of a chemical dependency treatment program at the Department of Social and Health Services.

Overdue White House Native Council Lacking Budget Control and Natives

Rob Capriccioso, Indian Country Today Media Network

President Barack Obama, following the lead of at least three presidents before him, established a White House Council on Native American Affairs on June 26.

The council is expected to oversee and coordinate the progress of federal agencies on tribal programs and consultation with tribes across the federal government.

“This policy is established as a means of promoting and sustaining prosperous and resilient tribal communities,” Obama said in his executive order announcing the Council. “Greater engagement and meaningful consultation with tribes is of paramount importance in developing any policies affecting tribal nations.” (Related story: Obama Establishes White House Council on Native American Affairs)

Jodi Gillette, Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs with the White House Domestic Policy Council, was direct in describing the need for the Council during a press conference call on June 27. “We need to do more, and we need to do it better,” she said. “Tribal leaders have told us we aren’t talking to each other enough.”

The Council will have no financial powers—those still belong to the Office of Management and Budget, which will continue to control how much money is spent on Native programs throughout the federal government.

Secretary of the Department of the Interior Sally Jewell, who is designated chair of the Council by the president, told attendees of a meeting of the National Congress of American Indians in Nevada on June 27 that she would like to have the ability to curb cuts to Indian programs. During a speech there, she called sequestration “stupid,” and she noted that it has targeted tribal programs that are supposed to be protected under the federal-tribal trust relationship. She also wiped tears from her eyes when she said she realized the depth of her commitment to Indian issues over Memorial Day Weekend.

Despite this budgetary limitation, the president’s move is being applauded by tribal officials, including some involved with NCAI, who say that such a development is overdue under the Obama administration to better organize its response to Indian issues.

At the same time, some are concerned that this new Council is not currently scheduled to have tribal seats, although the administration has promised to consult with tribal leaders on issues the Council addresses.

Tex Hall, chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes, has been pressing for the creation of a Native American White House council based on the model established under President Lyndon B. Johnson that would make tribes actual members of the council and give the council stronger powers (including OMB and budget powers).

Hall would especially like to see that model in place because OMB, earlier this year, decided to sequester Native programs, despite the federal trust responsibility to tribes. If the White House Native council had more budgetary power, this problem could have been averted.

Officials involved in past presidential Native American councils have also questioned why it took so long into Obama’s tenure to establish the Council since similar to ones that have proven to be useful under past administrations, including those of Presidents Johnson, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton.

Mike Anderson, an Indian affairs lawyers and past leader with the Clinton Native-focused council, said that he suggested to White House officials and to Indian affairs officials with the Department of the Interior during Obama’s first term that a similar council be created as the one he successfully worked on during the Clinton administration.

“[I’m] glad they are finally doing it,” Anderson said, adding that this group could have pushed for the federal agencies complete tribal consultation policies in compliance with the president’s request from 2009 that went unheeded by some for years after his request.

Anderson said it would have also been helpful for the Treasury Department, in particular, to hear perspectives on Indians during the president’s first term, since that Department has had some recent tax dealings with tribes that continue to perplex tribal leaders and citizens.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), chair of the subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs in the House, is expressing concern that the creation of the council is symbolic, and he fears it does not focus enough on helping poverty-stricken tribes.

“This announced council is symbolic and a gesture rather than concrete action,” said Young spokesman Michael Anderson (no relation to Indian affairs lawyer Mike Anderson). “This is the phenomenon of government people creating a ‘blue ribbon panel’ to buy time so they can figure out how…to improve Indian reservation economies.

“Indian country’s unemployment situation, from all appearances, has not improved since Obama took office,” Anderson added. “If it has, we wouldn’t know it because the Secretary of the Interior has failed to produce annually required tribal labor reports. There are precious few job-producing non-government projects the Obama administration has approved in Indian country.”

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, is much less critical of the Council and the president’s efforts. “This council recognizes the unique government-to-government relationship that exists between tribal governments and the federal government, and can help federal agencies work more effectively with tribes all across the nation,” she told Indian Country Today Media Network. “I look forward to working with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on innovative ways to strengthen tribal self-governance and self-determination.”

Some Obama administration officials say the creation of the Council is the next step in the evolution of the president’s strong commitment to Indian country.

“This announcement today is the next evolution of what is already a wonderful approach toward Indian tribes,” Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn said in a press conference call on June 27. “I am confident that this will make the administration even more effective at working with tribes in the future.”

Administration officials have not addressed why tribal officials were not invited to hold positions on the Council, as has happened with past presidential councils, nor why one wasn’t created sooner.

 

Read more at https://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/06/27/overdue-white-house-native-council-lacking-budget-control-and-natives-150162

Emergency meeting on June 27 to discuss state budget impacts on Snohomish Health District operations

Source: Snohomish County Health District
SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. — In the absence of a state budget, the Snohomish County Board of Health will convene for a special emergency meeting at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, June 27 in the Snohomish County Council Chambers, 8th floor of the Robert J. Drewel Building, 3000 Rockefeller Ave., Everett, Wash.
 
The state has made clear that local agencies will not be paid for state-funded services during a shutdown.  In order to continue most Snohomish Health District programs, the Board will be asked to approve spending from reserves for the first two weeks of July. A state shutdown will cost the Health District about $30,000 a day.  As a result of the shutdown, state-issued checks to purchase healthy foods through the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program will not be issued, however other WIC services will continue to be provided.
 
Should the state budget impasse continue, the Board will consider convening a regular meeting July 9th to determine program reductions and service suspension.     
 
If a state budget is approved prior to the Health Board emergency special meeting, the session will be cancelled immediately. Notice of cancellation will be posted at the county council chambers, at Health District offices in Everett and on the Health District’s website at www.snohd.org.
 
The Snohomish County Board of Health sets countywide public health policy, enacts and enforces local public health regulations, and carries out other duties of local boards of health specified in state law. These duties include enforcing state public health statutes, preventing and controlling the spread of infectious disease, abating nuisances, and establishing fee schedules for licenses, permits and other services.
 
For additional information about the board meeting or to request reasonable accommodations, please contact Lorie Ochmann, 425.339.5210; relay 711; lochmann@snohd.org
 
Established in 1959, the Snohomish Health District works for a safer and healthier Snohomish County through disease prevention, health promotion, and protection from environmental threats. Find more information about the Health Board and the Health District at http://www.snohd.org.

President Barack Obama’s Budget Concerns Indian Country Leaders

By Rob Capriccioso, Indian Country Today Media Network

Concerned Indian country leaders are saying that President Barack Obama, in his proposed budget for 2014, is not doing as strong a job at upholding the nation’s trust responsibility to American Indians as he has promised.

The budget, released April 10, is the president’s first time while in office to dramatically shrink his support for Indian programs in some key areas, including reductions in contract support services, education and school construction cuts, and spending on low-income housing.

In total, the $3.78 trillion budget would cut copy trillion in spending and raise $800 billion in new revenue over the next 10 years.

Indian organizations and tribes are still analyzing much of the budget and what it will mean, but some have already released statements of concern.

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) offered a grave assessment on April 12, saying that the “organization is deeply concerned about proposed cuts that threaten recent progress in critical areas,” and noting the areas of reduction in an analysis that would harm tribes.

At the same time, NCAI saw some positive developments: “We see signs of hope in the President’s proposal to replace the sequester and expand investments to enhance tribal law enforcement and strengthen the Indian Health Service but now is not time to slow the progress we have seen in Indian country,” said Jefferson Keel, president of NCAI. “The federal government must live up to its obligations in critical trust responsibility areas like contract support costs, education, and housing. We’ve experienced decades of the federal government falling short, and while we understand the limitations of the federal government, the federal trust responsibility to tribal nations and our peoples, is not a line item.”

Despite that optimism, the White House has been hesitant to single out Indian programs for protection in its budget process and in the current budget sequester that went into effect March 1, reducing many federal programs that offer support to tribes.

Charlie Galbraith, the Associate Director for Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House, told tribal leaders of the United South and Eastern Tribes in February that tribes could not be exempted from the sequester, despite this seeming to conflict with the administration’s stance on supporting federal trust responsibility for tribes.

“That’s just not going to happen,” Galbraith said. “We have the entire military machine, every lobbyist, every contractor, trying to exempt the military provision—the president is not going to cut this off piecemeal. We need a comprehensive solution that is going to address the real problem here.”

Still, programs at the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Transportation, as well as Congress’ pay, were exempted from the sequester—so there were some sacred cows. Indian programs could have been protected as well, if the federal government could have agreed to support that outcome. The Obama administration has not pushed for such an action, despite often saying it supports strong federal trust responsibility toward tribes.

NCAI ended its statement on a positive note, saying that there were “promising signs” in the president’s budget request, including public safety monies for tribes, a small increase in the Indian Health Service budget and contract health services, an increase for the Environmental Protection Agency’s General Assistance Program, a $32 million in increases for natural resource programs at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and language that provides “a no-cost economic development and jobs creation solution for restoring land to tribal governments impacted by the Carcieri Supreme Court decision.”

“NCAI will work to ensure that the federal programs that fulfill the trust responsibility to tribes receive bipartisan support in the appropriations process,” the organization concluded.

To date under the Obama administration, Congress has done a strong job at appropriating monies for Indian country-related programs, and Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma) has noted that Congress has actually appropriated more in several tribal areas than the president has requested. Many in Indian country, no doubt, will be hoping that that happens again.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/04/15/president-barack-obamas-budget-concerns-indian-country-leaders-148811

President’s Fiscal Year 2014 Indian Affairs Budget Focuses on Strengthening and Supporting Tribal Nations

Request supports Indian Affairs’ mission to serve federally recognized tribes and individual Indian trust beneficiaries

Source: U.S. Department of the Interior

WASHINGTON – President Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget request for Indian Affairs, which includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE), is $2.6 billion – a $31.3 million increase above the FY 2012 enacted level. The proposed budget maintains the President’s commitment to meeting the government’s responsibilities to the 566 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, while exercising fiscal responsibility and improving government operations and efficiency.

“The President’s budget request for Indian Affairs reflects his firm commitment to keeping our focus on strengthening and supporting tribal nations, and protecting Indian Country,” said Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn. “While realizing the benefits from improvements to Indian Affairs program management, the request supports our mission to federally recognized tribes, particularly in the areas of trust lands and natural resource protection. The request also promotes economic development, improves education, and strengthens law enforcement and justice administration.”

Strengthening Tribal Nations Initiative

The Strengthening Tribal Nations Initiative is a comprehensive, multi-year effort to advance the President’s commitments to American Indians and Alaska Natives to improve conditions throughout Indian Country and foster economic opportunities on Indian reservations.

The FY 2014 budget request includes $120 million in increases for this initiative to support sustainable stewardship and development of natural resources in Indian Country, public safety programs that apply lessons learned from successful law enforcement pilot programs, operations at new and expanded detention facilities, contract support costs to facilitate tribal self- governance, and new and expanded payments for water rights settlements. Additionally, it

provides increased funding for post-secondary education and an elementary and secondary school pilot program based on the U.S. Department of Education’s turnaround schools model and concepts.

Advancing Nation-to-Nation Relationships

The FY 2014 budget request for Contract Support Costs is $231 million – a $9.8 million increase over the FY 2012 enacted level. The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975, as amended, allows federally recognized tribes to operate federally funded programs themselves under contract with the United States – an expression of the federal government’s policy to support tribal self-determination and self-governance. Tribes rely on contract support costs funds to pay the costs of administering and managing contracted programs. It is a top priority for many tribes.

In light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Salazar v. Ramah Navajo Chapter, the FY 2014 budget request includes the Administration’s proposed interim solution to budgeting contract support costs. The Administration proposes Congress appropriate contract support costs on a contract by contract basis and will provide Congress with a contract funding table for incorporation into the Department’s FY 2014 appropriations legislation. Through tribal consultation, this interim step will lead to a long-term solution that will result in a simpler and more streamlined contract support costs process.

Protecting Indian Country

The FY 2014 budget request for BIA Public Safety and Justice programs is $363.4 million with targeted increases over the 2012 enacted level of $5.5 million for Law Enforcement Operations, $13.4 million for Detention Center Operations and $1.0 million for Tribal Courts.

The request also includes a $3.0 million programmatic increase in BIA Human Services to address domestic violence in tribal communities. A partnership between BIA Human Services and Law Enforcement will address the needs at tribal locations with high levels of domestic violence. The initiative will improve teamwork between law enforcement and social services to more rapidly address instances of domestic violence, and expand services that help stem domestic violence in Indian Country and care for its victims.

The FY 2014 budget request for Law Enforcement Operations is $199.7 million, a $5.5 million programmatic increase over the FY 2012 enacted level. The increased funding for Criminal Investigations and Police Services will enable the BIA to hire additional bureau and tribal law enforcement personnel. The request includes $96.9 million for Detention Center Operations, a program increase of $13.4 million over the FY 2012 enacted level. The additional funding for staffing, training and equipment will strengthen BIA and tribal capacity to operate existing and newly constructed detention facilities.

The request also includes $24.4 million for Tribal Courts, an increase of $1.0 million above the 2012 enacted level. The funding will be used for judges, prosecutors, public defenders, court

clerks, probation officers, juvenile officers, and support staff, as well as for training and related operations and administrative costs for tribal justice systems and Courts of Indian Offenses.

The FY 2014 budget request also supports the BIA’s successful pilot program, launched in 2010, that carries out the President’s Priority Goal of reducing violent crimes by at least five percent within 24 months on four initial reservations. The targeted, intense community safety program successfully reduced violent crime by an average of 35 percent across the four reservations. In 2012, the program was extended to two additional reservations. After a year, the two new sites have experienced an increase in reported crime – a trend similar to that seen at the initial four sites. The BIA will continue to support the efforts of all six programs in 2014 with funding, technical assistance, monitoring and feedback.

Improving Trust Land Management

Taking land into trust is one of the most important functions the Department undertakes on behalf of federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, whose homelands are essential to their peoples’ health, safety and economic well-being. The BIA’s trust programs assist tribes and individual Indian landowners in the management, development and protection of trust lands and natural resource assets totaling about 55 million surface acres and 57 million acres of subsurface mineral estates.

In 2012 and 2013, the Department undertook the most substantial overhaul of the federal fee-to- trust process in over half a century. In 2012, Interior placed 37,971 acres of land into trust on behalf of tribes and individual Indians and approved 299 fee-to-trust applications. Over the past four years, Indian Affairs has processed more than 1,000 separate applications and acquired over 196,600 acres of land in trust.

The FY 2014 budget request for the Trust – Natural Resources Management program, which assists tribes in managing, developing and protecting their trust lands and natural resources, is $189.2 million, a programmatic increase of $34.4 million over the FY 2012 enacted level. The increases support sustainable stewardship and development of natural resources and will support resource management and decision making in the areas of energy and minerals, climate, oceans, water, rights protection, and endangered and invasive species.

The FY 2014 budget request for Trust – Real Estate Services is $128.9 million, a programmatic increase of $7.7 million increase over the FY 2012 enacted level. This program carries out the BIA’s trust services, probate, and land titles and records functions, as well incorporates the Department’s trust reform improvement efforts. The request proposes a $5.5 million increase to fund authorized activities related to the Klamath Basin Restoration Agreement at $7.0 million and provides $1.5 million for litigation support for Indian natural resource trust assets management.

Advancing Indian Education

The FY 2014 budget request for the Bureau of Indian Education of $802.8 million, a program increase of $6.7 million above the FY 2012 enacted level, advances the Department’s continuing

commitment to the education of American Indians and Alaska Natives from the federally recognized tribes. The Advancing Indian Education initiative addresses the full spectrum of educational needs throughout Indian Country from elementary through post secondary levels and adult education. The 2014 budget supports student academic achievement in BIE schools by initiating a $15.0 million pilot program to turnaround lower performing elementary and secondary schools, provides $2.5 million in increased funding to meet the needs of growing enrollment at tribal colleges, and provides $3.0 million in new funding for a Science Post- Graduate Scholarship Fund. The budget also proposes an additional $2.0 million for tribal grant support costs.

Achieving Better Results at a Lower Cost

Administrative Cost Savings Over the last few years, Indian Affairs has taken significant steps to reduce the administrative costs associated with the wide range of services it delivers. In addition to $7.1 million in cost-saving measures from information technology standardization and infrastructure consolidations, the FY 2014 budget request includes a reduction of $19.7 million to reflect anticipated cost savings from streamlining operations. The request also includes $13.8 million in savings from reductions to contracts, fleet management, awards, and travel.

Indian Arts and Crafts Board The budget proposes to transfer the $1.3 million funding for the IACB from the Office of the Secretary to Indian Affairs, thereby allowing Indian Affairs to oversee the implementation of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, as amended, which contains both criminal and civil provisions to combat counterfeit activity in the American Indian and Alaska Native arts and crafts market, and the Board’s management of three museums in the Plains Region dedicated to the promotion, integrity and preservation of authentic American Indian art and culture.

Program Reductions and Eliminations:

  • Housing Improvement Program (-$12.6 million) Eliminates the HIP. Tribes are not precluded from using HUD funding to provide assistance to HIP applicants.
  • Law Enforcement Special Initiatives (-$2.6 million) Reflects decreased participation on collaborative activities such as intelligence sharing.
  • The Indian Student Equalization Program (ISEP) (-$16.5 million) Offsets $15.0 million for a turnaround school pilot program.
  • Replacement School Construction (-$17.8 million) The construction program will address improving physical conditions of existing school facilities through the Facilities Improvement and Repair program.
  • The Indian Guaranteed Loan Program (-$2.1 million) The funding level of $5.0 million will guarantee over $70 million in loans.

    Indian Affairs’ responsibility to the federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes is rooted in Article I, Section 8, of the United States Constitution, as well as in treaties, executive orders, and federal law. It is responsible for the management, development and protection of Indian trust land and natural resources, providing for public safety and justice in Indian Country, and promoting tribal self-determination and self-governance. Through the

Bureau of Indian Education, it funds 183 elementary and secondary day and boarding schools, of which two-thirds are tribally operated, located on 64 reservations in 23 states and serving in School Year 2011-2012 a daily average attendance of 41,000 students. It also provides funding to 27 tribal colleges and universities and two tribal technical colleges, operates two post- secondary institutions of higher learning and provides higher education scholarships.