|Obama's FY2011 Budget Proposal Offers Mixed Bag for Disability Community|
On February 1 the
Obama Administration released its budget request for FY2011. In addition to a continued
focus on healthcare reform and strategies for strengthening the economy,
the budget proposal also includes several initiatives focused on expanding economic
opportunity to low- and moderate-income Americans.
Asset Development Proposals in FY2011 Budget
The President's FY 2011 budget includes support for several asset
development initiatives that have long been pushed by the Corporation for
Entrepreneurial Development (CFED), NDI and other organizations that belong to
the Asset Development Kitchen Cabinet.
These initiatives include:
Expanding the Saver's Credit: Provides a 50
percent match on the first $1,000 of retirement savings for families earning
less than $65,000 and provides the deposit directly into the account rather
than providing it as a tax credit on federal income tax owed.
the Make Work Pay tax credit: Extends the refundable Make
Work Pay tax credit, which has already reached over 110 million families, for
an additional year. This credit provides $400 to single tax filers and
$800 to joint filers. Self-employed people are also eligible.
Increases Asset Limits connected to Eligibility for Supplemental
Nutrition Assistance Program [SNAP]: In an effort to streamline eligibility for families
eligible for benefits from multiple programs and encourage families to
save toward self-sufficiency, the budget proposes an initial reformation
of asset limits in certain Federal means-tested programs by raising
current SNAP asset limits from $2,000 to $10,000 per household. The proposal also excludes the
receipt of tax refunds from income eligibility requirements. These changes
would cost more than $4.5 billion over 5 years, and would add $426 million
to recipient benefits and SNAP program costs in 2011.
The budget also proposes
to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit, and revises the mortgage interest
deduction, charitable donations and other itemized deductions.
Individual Budget Profiles:
Proposed Funding for Key Initiatives Impacting Disability Population
While not an exhaustive list, the following key initiatives and programs
contained within the President's FY2011 budget are aimed at promoting
educational, employment and asset development opportunities, and have a direct
impact on citizens living with disabilities.
Department of Education
Department of Health and Human Services
Increased funding for Special Education & Vocational Rehabilitation: $250 million increase for
IDEA state grants
Workforce Investment Act Reforms: $30 million in new funding as part of
the Administration's Workforce Investment Act reforms, the 2011 Budget provides
$30 million in new funding for helping youth with significant disabilities
transition from education to
employment, learning what works in helping individuals with disabilities get
jobs and improving independent living outcomes.
Special Olympics: $2 million increase to $10 million through Department of
Education and an additional $6 million at HHS.
- New "Mentoring for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities" program: $10 million to help support
activities to help increase the participation of people with intellectual
disabilities in social relationships and other aspects of community life,
including recreation, education and employment.
Assets for Independence: $24 million
Community Services Block Grant: $700 million
FMAP Extension: Includes
a $25.5 billion for a six-month extension of the American Recovery &
Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and temporary increase in the Federal Medicaid
match through June 2011.
Independent Living: Includes $110 million for a new
Grants for Independent Living program that replaces the Independent Living
State Grants and Centers for Independent Living programs and would provide
formula grants to States to support the provision of independent living
services through centers for independent living. The request represents a $6 million increase over the
Supported Employment Extended Services for Youth with Significant
Disabilities: $25 million in new
funding for a new program of competitive grants to states to assist them
in expanding supported employment opportunities for youth with significant
disabilities, as they transition from school to the workforce.
Partnership for Workforce Innovation: Encompasses
$321 million of innovation funding in the Departments of Education and
Labor, including $30 million for a VR-related Workforce Innovation Fund,
would award competitive grants to encourage innovation and identify and
validate effective strategies for improving the delivery of services and
outcomes for beneficiaries under programs authorized by the Workforce
Investment Act. This investment will create strong incentives for change
that, if scaled up, could improve the effectivness of the WIA programs.
Innovation: The budget proposes a new Partnership for Workforce Innovation
between the Departments of Labor and Education. The budget for the
Employment and Training Administration (ETA) includes a Workforce Innovation Fund in the Adult and
Dislocated Worker programs and a new Youth Innovation Fund in the Youth program. The
federal-state-local partnership that exists under WIA holds enormous
potential for exploring alternative service strategies. Ideas for new
strategies most often originate with state and local service providers,
who work face-to-face with customers every day. This proposal is
consistent with the Department's three-part strategy for program reform
and continuous improvement, which calls for Innovation,
Evaluation/Data-Driven Strategies, and Improved Implementation.
Program Evaluation: Rigorous,
independent evaluation drives results, and produces programs that are more
efficient and effective. In order to drive evidence-based decisions about
what works and what doesn't, the Administration is aggressively expanding
its program evaluation efforts. Across Government, the President's Budget
funds 23 of the most promising new program evaluations and makes targeted
investments to build agencies' evaluation capacity. Evaluation results will
be published online, and an interagency task force will help to shape the
evaluations. The budget for DOL includes $40.3 million to fund five
rigorous evaluations, including:
WIA Performance Measures
Effects of Job Counseling
Use of Administrative Data in Workforce Programs
Incentives for Dislocated Workers
Effects of OSHA Inspections
Office of Disability Employment Policy: The FY 2011 request of $39,138,000 will enable ODEP to continue
its collaborative efforts with ETA. ODEP and ETA are working to improve
the capacity of the existing One-Stop system to provide accessible
programs and services to individuals with disabilities. Specifically, ODEP
requests $12 million to continue its FY 2010 collaboration work with ETA,
to increase system capacity and meaningful access (e.g. Section 188
of the Rehabilitation Act, as amended) to its WIA programs through the Disability
Employment Initiative. This initiative will seek to build upon the
promising practices of ETA's Disability Program Navigator initiative and
ODEP's customized employment initiative to improve the employment outcomes
of individuals with disabilities served by One-Stop Career Centers. It is presumed that ETA's budget
also incorporates an additional $12 million for their contributions to the
program, although this is not explicitly stated in the FY2011 budget.
These resources will support the effective deployment of staff in
selected states and their One-Stop Career Center system to: (1) improve
coordination and collaboration among employment and training and asset
development programs carried out at the state or local level; (2) build
effective state and local partnerships that leverage public and private
resources to better serve individuals with disabilities and result in increased
employment or self-employment outcomes; and (3) expand services to women,
minorities and veterans with disabilities. States will develop models for
One-Stops that will help them improve accessibility in terms of physical,
programmatic and communications, including state of the art assistive
Work Incentive Grants (WIGs) were funded to address concerns about the
ability of the One-Stop Career Center system, which was established under the
Workforce Investment Act of 1998, to meet the needs of individuals with
disabilities. Established as a demonstration project, WIGs funded a variety of
approaches aimed at increasing the labor force participation, life-long
learning opportunities, and career advancement for persons with disabilities.
Disability Program Navigators (DPNs), primarily funded through WIG grants,
facilitated many of these service delivery improvements. DPNs were also engaged
in promoting meaningful and effective physical, programmatic, and communication
access to the One-Stop Career Center system and establishing critical linkages
to employers to increase job and career opportunities.
After seven years of dedicated funding, the goal of the DPN program to
demonstrate new approaches to serving individuals with disabilities was reached
and the budget did not request or receive dedicated funding for the program in
FY 2010. However, beginning in FY 2010 the Department began the Disability
Employment Initiative which is administered by both ETA and ODEP. This
initiative is influenced by the experiences and information gained through the
DPN program and serves to improve the effective and meaningful
participation of persons with disabilities in the workforce system. In FY2011, the Department plans
to continue funding targeted assistance to persons with disabilities through
the Disability Employment Initiative.
As a result, no funding is requested for WIGs in the FY2011 budget.
Office of Disability Employment Policy
Small Business Administration
Attempts to Reduce Federal
Spending & Address Growing National Deficit
Taxpayer Service Program:
Includes an increase of $43.1 million within the Taxpayer Services
account. This increase includes:
$20,945,000 in new or
redirected funding towards improving telephone level of service
performance targets to 75%, which includes a $9.0 million reallocation
from the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS), Low-Income Taxpayer Clinic
(LITC) Grants program, Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program and
the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Grants program.
An additional $25 million is also included in Operations Support to
be invested as part of a multi-year effort to improve the IRS.gov website
infrastructure and redesign the IRS.gov website to meet taxpayer needs
and the growing demand for more electronic services.
Earned Income Tax Credit:
Permanently extends the ARRA's efforts to increase the EITC for
working families with three or more children, and increases the threshold
for the phase-out range for all married couples filing a joint
return. The budget also
proposes to eliminate the Advance Earned Income Tax Credit (AEITC).
CDFI Fund: $250 million and $12 million for Native American
The President's budget proposal institutes a three-year non-security
discretionary freeze that will save an estimated $250 billion over the next
decade. The spending freeze places an overall cap on
non-security discretionary funding but is not an across the board cut to all
programs. The administration also identified more than 120
programs for termination or reduction.
Federal Reserve of Boston hosts "Opportunities for
Community Development Finance in the Disability Market" conference in
Washington DC on February
In an effort to evaluate the barriers to employment, savings, and
securing affordable housing, a two-day conference entitled, "Opportunities
for Community Development Finance in the Disability Market," was
cosponsored by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, The Disability Opportunity Fund, and Wall
Street Without Walls on February 2-3, 2010 in Washington, D.C. Participants included an emerging group
of individuals and organizations at the intersection of the community
development finance and disability sectors who were brought together to share
experiences and expertise related to the leveraging of various resources of
each of these sectors to create new products, services, and policies aimed at
strengthening the economic opportunities for Americans with disabilities. A
major focus of the conference was on the low-income market as individuals with
disabilities report lower incomes, higher unemployment, and lower labor force
participation than their peers without disabilities.
As part of the conference, a series of original papers were compiled on
the topic of the intersection of community development finance and the
disability sector. Each paper covered a key issue related to advancing the
housing, asset building, employment opportunities of people with disabilities.
The articles address the intersection of community development finance and the
disability sector. These papers were
compiled to create a starting point for a long-term conversation on how
community development finance, the disability sector, and financial
institutions, among others, can work together to strengthen housing, asset
building, and employment opportunities for people with disabilities. In
addition to the cosponsoring organizations, the following corporate partners
provided support to the conference proceedings: Ford Foundation, AT&T, and Prudential Financial, Inc. Once the final papers are published,
NDI will make them available to the general public on its website at www.realeconomicimpact.org.
Department of Labor sets Ambitious Agenda to Spur Meaningful Job
Creation among Nation's Unemployed
The Department of Labor (DOL) FY 2011 request marks a transitional year in the
development of the Department's new strategic framework and performance goals.
As part of this transition, the Department's budget supports the Secretary's
vision of "Good jobs for Everyone" as defined by the
following five new strategic goals and 13 supporting outcome goals:
Good Jobs for
Outcome Goals, U.S. Department of Labor
Strategic Goal 1: Prepare workers
for good jobs and ensure fair compensation.
Strategic Goal 2: Ensure workplaces are safe and healthy.
Increase workers' incomes and narrow wage and
skills and knowledge that prepare workers to succeed in a knowledge-based
economy, including in high-growth and emerging industry sectors like
workers who are in low-wage jobs or out of the labor market find a path
into middle class jobs.
middle-class families remain in the middle class.
wages and overtime.
Strategic Goal 3: Assure fair and high quality work-life
- Secure safe and healthy workplaces,
particularly in high-risk industries.
Strategic Goal 4: Secure health benefits and, for those not
working, provide income security.
Break down barriers to fair and diverse
workplaces so that every worker's contribution is respected.
Provide workplace flexibility for family and
Ensure worker voice in the workplace.
Facilitate return to work for workers
experiencing workplace injuries or illnesses who are able to work.
income support when work is impossible or unavailable.
health benefits and retirement security for all workers.
Strategic Goal 5: Foster fair working conditions in the
- Assure that global markets are governed by
fair market rules that protect vulnerable people including women and
children, and provide workers a fair share of productivity and a voice in
their work lives.
Bill Lost Opportunity for Disability Population
On the heels of the House of Representatives passing the Jobs for Main
Street Act in late December, the Senate barely inched through a more modest
alternative jobs package during the final week of February. After a whirlwind day of frantic
negotiations both with Republicans and members of his own party, Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid successfully squeezed out a victory passage of a $15
billion jobs bill on February 24th. Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown, along with Senators Kit Bond, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and George Voinovich all joined
Democrats in voting for the proposal.
The measure is centered on tax breaks for businesses that hire new
workers this year and a renewal of highway programs through Dec. 31. Both ideas have wide support in both
parties. Mark Zandi, an economist with Moody's Economy.com
estimates the tax credit could spur about 250,000 new jobs. Specifically, the bill is broken into
four key categories, including:
Incentives for Hiring and
Retaining Unemployed Workers: A $13
billion measure exempting businesses hiring the unemployed from the 6.2 percent
Social Security payroll tax through December and
giving them another $1,000 credit if new workers stay on the job a full year.
Increase in Expensing of
Certain Depreciable Business Assets:
Extends a tax break for small businesses buying new equipment.
Issuer allowed refundable
credit for certain qualified tax credit bonds: Modestly expands an
initiative that helps state and local governments
finance infrastructure projects.
Extension of Current
Surface Transportation Programs
In comparison with the $862 billion economic stimulus bill enacted last year, the bill is
considered a quite modest attempt at spurring job development and growth. The
legislative package is also significantly smaller than a bipartisan bill
unveiled earlier this month by Senators Max Baucus
(D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA), the chairman
and ranking Republican, respectively, on the Senate Finance
Committee. Both Republicans
and some Democrats were unhappy that Reid abruptly dumped about $70 billion in
other tax breaks for businesses and individuals, help for the unemployed and
additional Medicare payments to doctors from the compromise measure. The larger Finance
Committee bill included about $33 billion in popular tax breaks,
including an income tax deduction for sales and property
taxes and a business tax credit for
research and development, that would be extended through 2010. Those ideas have
sweeping support among lawmakers, have been routinely renewed and probably will
come up for votes again soon.
Business groups say companies are unlikely to hire
workers just to receive a tax break. That means most of the tax benefits in the
Reid proposal would go to companies that would have hired new workers anyways.
Perhaps the greatest disappointment with both the House and Senate job
bills is the lack of any investments specifically targeted at improving the
employment opportunities of citizens with disabilities. Despite recent efforts among disability
policy advocates and key Senate staff to include strategic investments in
innovative employment strategies and systems-change reforms, the packages thus
far lack any mention of disability-specific employment initiatives. NDI is working with the Collaboration
to Promote Self-Determination to push for inclusion of a $200 million package in
any conference legislative package developed between the House & Senate that
comprises a series of proposed strategies, including the hiring of additional
Disability Program Navigators, job developers, and financial literacy
consultants to help create employment and economic opportunities specifically
for individuals with disabilities.
However, the inclusion of such a package at this point in the
legislative process is uncertain.
As reported by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of
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