Minnesota nonprofits weigh in on federal budget conference report

One-hundred and six Minnesota nonprofits signed on to an April 21 letter sent by the Minnesota Budget Project to the Minnesota Congressional delegation urging support for a federal budget that provides adequate funding for domestic priorities. The so-called “domestic discretionary” portion of the budget provides a framework for annual appropriations bills addressing issues such as affordable housing, education, environmental protection, health care and medical research, economic support to keep families out of poverty, services for people with disabilities and more.

The letter to Senator Klobuchar and the state’s eight U.S. representatives notes that “while funding for defense and homeland security has grown substantially in recent years, domestic discretionary spending has grown much more slowly. According to the Office of Management and Budget, the (President’s) proposed increase for domestic discretionary spending is only 3.2 percent over 2009 levels when one-time increases in the President’s budget for the 2010 Census and the cost of the FHA loan guarantee program are excluded and inflation and population growth are factored in.” Nevertheless, some in Congress are still hoping to make substantial cuts in the domestic discretionary portion of the final budget resolution conference report.

The letter also urges the state’s Congressional delegation to support tax policies that help low- and moderate-income Minnesota families. The letter cites the recent temporary improvements in the earnings eligibility threshold for the Child Tax Credit and the expanded Earned Income Tax Credit for families with three or more children as examples of effective federal tax policies for low-income working families that should be made permanent.

The White House and Congressional leaders are now negotiating an agreement on how much money should be set aside in the final budget conference report for domestic discretionary spending. A decision could be reached as early as the week of April 27. Once an agreement is reached, look for the final budget conference report to come to the floors of both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate for a final vote. Once the budget conference report is adopted, the appropriations committees in both the House and Senate will get down to work in putting together actual spending bills for the next federal fiscal year that begins on October 1, 2009.

-Steve Francisco

About Steve Francisco

Steve Francisco is the former federal policy analyst for the Minnesota Budget Project.
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