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February/March 2010
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.
  • Extending 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
  • 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.
Department of Health and Human Services
  • 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 2010 levels.
  • 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.
  • Family Self-Sufficiency Coordinators: $60 million
  • Community Development Block Grant: $3.9 billion
  • 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.
    • The Workforce Innovation Fund and the Youth Innovation Fund will allow ETA to foster competition in the creation and evaluation of innovative means of providing improved job training and placement services to a larger population of workers at a low marginal cost. ETA will also work with the Department of Education and other federal agencies to encourage innovations that cross program silos to deliver more seamless services. Ultimate employment outcomes and the size and diversity of the population served will be the principal measures of success.
  • 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 technologies.
    • 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.



Recovery Act


2011 Request

Office of Disability Employment Policy





Total Budget Authority





Total FTE





Small Business Administration
  • Microloans: $25 million
  • Microloan TA: $10 million (to be confirmed)
  • PRIME: $3.5 million
  • Women's Business Centers: $14 million
  • 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.
      • The FY2011 President's Budget proposes a $4.0 million decrease from FY2010 level in the VITA Community Matching Grant Assistance Program, back to FY2009 funding levels of $8.0 million.
    • 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 CDFIs.
Attempts to Reduce Federal Spending & Address Growing National Deficit
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 Everyone

Strategic and Outcome Goals, U.S. Department of Labor

Strategic Goal 1: Prepare workers for good jobs and ensure fair compensation.
  • Increase workers' incomes and narrow wage and income inequality.
  • Assure skills and knowledge that prepare workers to succeed in a knowledge-based economy, including in high-growth and emerging industry sectors like "green" jobs.
  • Help workers who are in low-wage jobs or out of the labor market find a path into middle class jobs.
  • Help middle-class families remain in the middle class.
  • Secure wages and overtime.
Strategic Goal 2: Ensure workplaces are safe and healthy.
  • Secure safe and healthy workplaces, particularly in high-risk industries.
Strategic Goal 3: Assure fair and high quality work-life environments.
  • Break down barriers to fair and diverse workplaces so that every worker's contribution is respected.
  • Provide workplace flexibility for family and personal care-giving.
  • Ensure worker voice in the workplace.
Strategic Goal 4: Secure health benefits and, for those not working, provide income security.
  • Facilitate return to work for workers experiencing workplace injuries or illnesses who are able to work.
  • Ensure income support when work is impossible or unavailable.
  • Improve health benefits and retirement security for all workers.
Strategic Goal 5: Foster fair working conditions in the global marketplace.
  • 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.
Jobs 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.
US Disability Employment Profile - January 2010

As reported by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics
January, 2010
Vol: 2 Issue: 2
In This Issue
1. Obama's FY2011 Budget Proposal offers Mixed Bag for Disability Community
2. Federal Reserve of Boston hosts "Opportunities for Community Development Finance in the Disability Market
3. Department of Labor sets Ambitious Agenda to Spur Meaningful Job Creation among Nation's Unemployed
4. Jobs Bill Lost Opportunity for Disability Population
5. US Disability Employment Profile - Jan 2010

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