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Community Update: SEARAC Analysis of the President's FY 2013 Budget
Mar 1 Community Update: SEARAC Analysis of the President's FY 2013 Budget
On February 13, the president released his proposed budget for the 2013 fiscal year. SEARAC reviewed the president’s budget and provides some analysis below on areas that impact the Southeast Asian American community.
The president's proposed budget for FY 2013 includes a plan to consolidate two HUD-administered economic independence and self-sufficiency oriented programs into the Family Self-Sufficiency Program (FSS). The two programs that are being proposed for consolidation provide housing for the most economically vulnerable communities. The proposed consolidation would save $15 million. While streamlining and consolidating these programs may save on administrative costs for the upcoming fiscal year, a reduction in overall funding for rental assistance and public housing could have a detrimental effect on Southeast Asian American communities, who have much lower per capita incomes than the general population as a whole.
A key portion of the president’s budget that affects elders is the allocation made to the Social Security Administration. For FY 2013, the president has recommended funding for the Social Security Administration at $11.7 billion. This allocation goes towards administering the Social Security program; the money to pay Social Security benefit checks comes from payroll taxes. The president’s budget allocation is slightly lower than what the Social Security Administration has requested.
In addition, many elders benefit from aging services supported by the Administration on Aging, such as senior nutrition and senior centers. One critical shift is the transfer of the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) from the Department of Labor to the Administration on Aging, but without an increase in allocation from last year. In addition, many other important programs that serve elders also saw no increase in funding. Although we support the continued efforts at improving program and agency efficiency, we urge policymakers to ensure that the SCSEP program and other elder support programs receive funding at the level needed to serve older adults.
Health and Human Services
The president's proposed budget includes reductions to multiple provisions that will impact the ability of Southeast Asian Americans and low-income families to access health care. Specifically, the proposed budget includes changes to Medicaid and Medicare that save federal dollars. However, historically, changes to provider reimbursement rates have adversely impacted communities struggling with access by deterring physicians from practicing in underserved communities. While the pursuit of making these federal health care programs more efficient is worthwhile, we urge policy makers to reject changes that adversely affect access to quality and culturally appropriate health care.
The proposed budget also includes a $4 billion reduction to the Prevention and Public Health Fund over 10 years. Scaling back of the Prevention Fund is counter-productive because preventative care has proven to be an effective tool for reducing health costs and improving the wellness of underserved communities. In addition, reductions to the Prevention fund hinders the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and weakens support for community based organizations who serve economically vulnerable populations.
The president's budget maintains and increases funding for both K-12 and higher education resources. The budget maintains funding for two important resources under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as No Child Left Behind) that serve low-income and limited English-speaking Southeast Asian American students: Title I, Part A which serves schools and school districts with high numbers of low-income students, and Title III, Part A, which serves schools with school districts that have high numbers of English language learners. The president's budget also increases funding to the following K-12 programs: Race to the Top, School Turnaround Grants, Investing in Innovation (i3), and Promise Neighborhoods.
Within higher education, the president's budget maintains funding for the Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs) Programs, which support public or private non-profit colleges or universities with a student body that is at least 10 percent Asian American or Pacific Islander. The president's budget also seeks to expand access to college by maintaining Pell Grant levels of $5,635 through the 2014-15 award year, and proposes to make the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) permanent—a partially refundable tax credit worth up to $10,000 per student over four years of college.
The president’s FY 13 budget includes a very slight increase for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which enforces our immigration laws and also houses the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). However, within the DHS budget, significant budget changes are proposed. The president proposes a $20 million increase to the Criminal Alien Program (CAP), an enforcement program held in local, state, and federal prisons to identify non-citizens for removal. A significant decrease in funding was proposed for the Secure Communities and the 287(g) enforcement programs. The president’s budget also proposed an increase to the Alternatives to Detention program. For Citizenship and Immigration Services, the president requested $11 million for the immigrant integration program. For additional information about the DHS budget, an analysis done by the National Immigration Forum can be found here.