On Obama's Budget: Building a Fair and Stable Economy for Indian Country
February 14, 2012 -
Posted by on February 13, 2012 at 04:24 PM EST
In his State of the Union address, President Obama laid out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last – an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values. Today, the President released a budget that illustrates how we put that blueprint to work.
The President has been clear that we need to do more to create jobs and help economic growth. While the current economic crisis has challenged all Americans, we know this to be especially true for Indian Country where some reservations face unemployment rates of up to 80 percent. Though the economic challenges of Indian Country are significant, President Obama is committed to building strong, prosperous Native American economies.
The President’s FY 2013 Budget includes $19.4 billion in government-wide funding for Native American programs, an increase of nearly $585 million over the 2012 funding level and $875 million over the 2011 funding level. Agencies and programs critical to Indian Country including the Departments of Education, Transportation, Justice, and Health and Human Services (which includes the Indian Health Service) have all received funding increases for Indian Country programs in the President’s 2013 Budget. Throughout most federal agencies, funding for Native American programs remained relatively level. Given the fiscal situation the country faces, this is a significant achievement. Within the Bureau of Indian Affairs, programs were protected that have a direct impact on Native American lives and that were considered a priority by tribal leaders.
To construct an economy that is built to last and provide security for Indian Country, the 2013 Budget will:
Strengthen Tribal Nations. The Budget increases funding to compensate Tribes for the work they perform in managing Federal programs under self-determination contracts and self-governance compacts.
Provide a Carcieri Fix. To address the United States Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar, the Budget includes language reaffirming the Secretary of Interior’s authority to take land into trust for all federally recognized Indian tribes.
Continue Efforts to Increase Access to Health Care for American Indians and Alaska Natives: The Budget includes $4.4 billion for the Indian Health Service (IHS), which is intended to fund key investments in clinical services and staffing, tribally-operated health programs and health facilities construction. This funding amount is a 2.6 percent increase over the 2012 enacted levels. The Budget also includes $40 million for a new Behavioral Health Tribal Prevention Grant within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which will support AI/ANs efforts to prevent substance abuse and suicide.
Expand Access to College and Boost Native American College Completion: The Budget provides $132 million to the Bureau of Indian Education to support post-secondary education for Native American students at 27 tribal colleges and universities, two tribal technical colleges, and two BIA-operated universities, as well as providing higher education scholarships to approximately 32,000 students.
Combat Crime in Indian Country: Within the Department of Justice, the Budget provides $346 million, a 12 percent increase over the 2012 enacted level, for criminal justice programs involving tribal areas.
Address the Scarcity of Healthy, Safe, Affordable Housing in Indian Country: The Budget provides $650 million for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Native American Housing Block Grant program. The Budget also provides an additional $60 million for HUD’s Indian Community Development Block Grant program.
Protect Tribal Lands and the Environment: The Budget provides $266 million, a $26 million increase above the 2012 funding level, for environmental protection programs. This includes a $30 million increase for grant programs specifically targeted at Tribes and tribal consortia to develop and help implement environmental protection programs on tribal lands.
Support Infrastructure Development for Native Americans: The Budget proposes providing a significant investment in a 21st century infrastructure to create thousands of jobs and modernize a critical foundation of our economic growth. This investment includes infrastructure funds dedicated to Indian Reservation roads, bridges and transit service. This proposal includes a $50 billion up-front investment in the 2012 Budget combined with a 6-year $476 billion reauthorization for surface transportation programs.
Increase Funding to Address Unemployment in Indian Country: The Budget includes a 10 percent increase from 2012 funding levels to provide grants to Indian Tribes, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and tribal non-profit organizations that provide employment and training services to unemployed and low-income members of Indian Country.
The President’s Budget also includes funding and proposals to support business growth and access to credit in Indian Country, to continue to expand job creation opportunities, to give all children in Indian Country a fair shot at success by improving and reforming K – 12 education, to expand access to college, to ensure a well trained workforce, and to assist with winter fuel costs.
The Budget is a blueprint for how we can rebuild an economy where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded; it is a blueprint for providing security and a strong future for all Americans, including Indian Country.
For more information about how the President’s FY 2013 Budget will construct an economy that is built to last and provide security for Indian Country, please click here. Please click the links to view the budget justifications for Indian Health Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Kimberly Teehee is Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs with White House Domestic Policy Council