Public Policy Update

Some federal funding programs affecting psychology will grow, but budget cuts threaten others.

The recently enacted fiscal year (FY) 2003 omnibus spending bill and President Bush's proposed budget for FY 2004 both include provisions that will affect psychology. Since the budget serves as a blueprint for Congress to use in its funding decisions, the societal context in which this budget was delivered is especially critical. A volatile economy, the cost of a potential war with Iraq, increased spending on homeland security, and further enhancements in space-travel safety will affect the appropriations process in FY 2004 and beyond.

Moreover, for the first time in 30 years, the executive branch, the Senate and the House of Representatives are controlled by a single party. New congressional leaders have made it clear that they will promote the Bush administration's agenda by acting on legislation to cut taxes and reduce discretionary spending. The impact of this fiscal conservatism is only now being realized because the budget for FY 2004 was unfurled before the much delayed appropriations for FY 2003 had been enacted. To further complicate matters, 11 of the 13 individual appropriations bills to fund federal agencies were wrapped into one omnibus bill. It will take time to untangle the programmatic detail, which includes an across-the-board 0.65 percent cut, yet to be applied to nearly all of the programs funded by the bill.

Education policy
  • Big win for psychology training at Bureau of Health Professions. Congress approved a threefold increase for the Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) Program for FY 2003--a $3 million continuation of GPE overall, with an additional $3 million for a new geropsychology training component. This initiative has been the top legislative priority for APA's Education Directorate, Public Policy Office and Office on Aging. It is the culmination of a significant grassroots effort and would not have been possible without the commitment of many active APA members. GPE programs provide grants to graduate schools of psychology and internship sites for interdisciplinary training for working in areas of national need, such as rural communities, and with underserved populations, such as children, the elderly and people who have chronic illnesses or have experienced trauma or abuse.

  • Bright future for National Health Service Corps (NHSC). The NHSC, housed in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), provides financial assistance to psychologists and other health professionals in exchange for their providing services in designated underserved areas. For FY 2003, the NHSC received $172 million--an increase of $27 million over the FY 2002 level of $145 million. Of this total, $130 million will be used to recruit psychologists and other eligible health professionals by offering scholarships and loan repayment. In an effort to make greater strides in improving the nation's health, President Bush has recommended an increase of $40.8 million for a total of $213 million in FY 2004.

  • Peaks and valleys for other key education training programs. The Department of Education funding levels for FY 2003 and those proposed by the president for FY 2004 are a mixed bag, especially for programs of interest to APA members. Funding for programs supporting postsecondary education--especially graduate study--is likely to remain largely stagnant in both FY 2003 and FY 2004. For a more detailed overview of FY 2003 and proposed FY 2004 funding for federal education programs, visit the Education Policy web page.

 

 

Science policy
  • Budget doubled for National Institutes of Health (NIH). One of the biggest success stories comes to a close this year with the completion of the five-year effort to double the budget for NIH. In FY 2003, the NIH budget was increased by 16.2 percent, or $3.8 billion, for a total of $27.3 billion. After the 0.65 percent across-the-board cut noted above, the NIH total will reach a mere $10.1 million shy of the president's request. Of great concern now is the 2 percent increase proposed by the president for FY 2004. A range of untoward consequences have been predicted if NIH funding increases fall below 8 or 9 percent annually, including decreased capacity to fund new research and infrastructure, cuts in prior funding commitments and diminished training opportunities. Hopefully, the same congressional champions who salvaged the threatened FY 2003 appropriation will be there to help with FY 2004.

  • Research funding less secure at Department of Defense (DoD). The FY 2003 appropriation and the administration's FY 2004 request for Science and Technology (the budget program that includes basic and applied research) at DoD are disappointing. The Coalition for National Security Research, of which APA is a member, and a number of legislators and defense experts support DoD spending at least 3 percent of its overall budget on science and technology. This proportion is comparable to research spending in industry and deemed an appropriate investment in basic science. The administration's request for FY 2004 falls short of this goal.

  • New spending level yet to be achieved at National Science Foundation (NSF). The president's FY 2004 request for NSF is $5.5 billion, substantially less than the $6.4 billion level proposed in the NSF reauthorization bill signed into law in December. This amount is only a little more than 3 percent over the FY 2003 funding level of $5.3 billion, which is an 11 percent increase over FY 2002. Yet, the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate still ended up with a substantially smaller increase than all other NSF directorates.

 

 

Public interest policy
  • Overall gains for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA's Center for Mental Health Services received $862.1 million for FY 2003, an increase of $30.8 million. However, the president's budget proposed to negate this increase with a $28 million cut for FY 2004. The children's mental health program will increase by $2 million to $98.5 million in FY 2003, with a proposed increase to $107 million for FY 2004. For its Programs of Regional and National Significance initiative, the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) received $319.4 million-- an increase of $30.8 million--whereas the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) received $198.4 million, an increase of only about $1 million above FY 2002. Accordingly, the president's FY 2004 budget proposed a marked increase of $237.2 million for this initiative at CSAT and a $50.3 million reduction at CSAP.

  • Mixed funding picture for other child mental health programs. In general, children's programs in HHS received level funding or modest increases, with noted increases slated for Head Start of about $140 million for FY 2003 and FY 2004. In the Department of Education, however, the outlook is more mixed. For example, the Elementary and Secondary School Counseling program, which will receive level funding of $32.5 million in FY 2003, is scheduled for elimination in the president's FY 2004 budget. The 21st Century Learning Centers program, which funds an array of afterschool programs, is reduced to $600 million in the president's budget, after receiving $1 billion for this year and last. Funding for the Safe and Drug Free Schools program is slated for $628 million in FY 2003, a decline of $119 million. Yet, the president's FY 2004 budget increases the funding level to $694 million. In contrast, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act will receive a large increase from $1.4 billion to $8.9 billion in FY 2003. The president proposes to increase this program further to $9.5 billion in FY 2004. However, allocations for personnel preparation and research and innovation are scheduled to remain level.

  • Relative status quo for National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC). NCIPC, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), strives to prevent death and disability from non-occupational injuries. For FY 2003, NCIPC received a $5 million increase over last year to $149.3 million. The center's priority areas include child abuse and neglect, violence against women and the recently created National Violent Death Reporting System. Unfortunately, the president's FY 2004 budget proposes level funding for NCIPC.

  • Increased cross-agency funding to combat HIV/AIDS. The CDC Center on HIV/AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Tuberculosis Prevention received a $34 million increase over last year's appropriation to $1.19 billion. Under the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Ryan White AIDS programs, which provide services for people living with HIV/AIDS, received a $95 million increase over last year's funding to $2 billion. Under the president's FY 2004 budget, the CDC center would receive a $46 million increase, and the Ryan White AIDS programs would receive a $99 million increase.

 

 

Call to action

APA's Public Policy Office (PPO) will continue to send APA members updates on these and other initiatives via the Public Policy Advocacy Network to stimulate psychologists' civic involvement. For more information on these and other federally funded programs affecting psychology, visit PPO's web site or contact ppo@apa.org.

This report was compiled by APA's Public Policy Office.