Public Policy Update

On Jan. 23, President Bush delivered his sixth State of the Union address to Congress, placing the economy, the war on terror, educational improvement and health-care reform at the top of his agenda. Over the following weeks, Congress passed a spending bill for fiscal year (FY) 2007, which officially had begun on Oct. 1. The passage of this FY 2007 Joint Funding Resolution took an important step in maintaining vital programs of importance to APA members by ensuring that health and education remain a funding priority.

This measure successfully secured $2.3 billion in additional funds for health and education programs. A $620 million increase for the National Institutes of Health provides for the continuation of important health research. Additionally, an increase of $250 million for Title I, the largest federal elementary and secondary program, will support the commitment of the No Child Left Behind Act to assist schools in meeting the educational needs of disadvantaged students. The $76 million increase for the reauthorized Ryan White CARE State Grants will help states affected by a new formula to provide critical services to individuals living with HIV/AIDS. The measure also provides increases for state grants for Special Education, Head Start, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, among others.

The release in early February of the president’s FY 2008 budget further contributed to political tension surrounding federal spending. His recommendations, as in the last several budgets, include cuts to domestic programs, especially to those under the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. Under the proposal, domestic discretionary spending is cut by $114 billion over the next five years. It is important to note, however, that the president’s budget serves only as a blueprint for congressional appropriators.

Below is a look at the 2007 funding and proposed 2008 funding forecast for federal programs of interest to psychology in the areas of education, science and public interest.

  • The Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) Program. As in past years, the president’s proposed budget eliminates funds for GPE. The program is currently operating on a budget of $1.8 million, an amount that has further reduced funding for the grants after the drastic loss of $2.5 million in FY 2006.

  • Bureau of Health Professions. The president’s FY 2008 budget proposes funding in the amount of $115 million for Title VII and VIII health professions within the Bureau of Health Professions of the Health Resources and Services Administration. Within the $115 million, the president proposes $10 million for Title VII Scholarships for Disadvantaged Students and $105 million for Title VIII nursing. Unlike previous years, the administration proposes a 30 percent cut for the Title VIII nursing programs.

  • The National Health Service Corps. The president requests a reduction of $10 million to a level of $116 million for financial aid programs for health professionals--including psychologists--willing to serve in designated shortage areas. However, the president is requesting an increase of $224 million for a total of $1.988 billion to expand the Community Health Center Program to serve an estimated 16.3 million economically disadvantaged people. Approximately 77 percent of the health centers include primarily substance abuse services, with some including mental health services.

  • Post-secondary education. The president proposed a significant increase in the maximum Pell grant of $550, bringing the total maximum Pell to $4,600. At the same time, the president’s budget includes the elimination of another program targeted to low-income students, the Student Education Opportunity grants; this may portend another year of difficult battles to increase overall support for college for low-income students. The Federal Work Study program is level funded at $980.5 million. Two grant programs that support graduate students were level funded: Javits fellowship at $9.8 million and Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need at $30 million. The president’s budget proposes eliminating the Teacher Quality Enhancement grant program, which supports pre-service teachers at institutions of higher education.

  • Elementary/Secondary Education. The president proposes eliminating: Javits Gifted and Talented Education; School Dropout Prevention; Mental Health Integration in Schools; Women’s Educational Equity; Character Education and Elementary and Secondary School Counseling. The Title I program received a boost over its expected FY 2007 level to $13.9 billion. The Safe and Drug Free Schools State Grant program received a proposed reduction of $251 million to $100 million, and the national programs received level funding of $224 million.

  • Institute of Education Sciences (IES). The president proposed level funding for the primary research centers within IES. The National Center for Education Research would receive $162.5 million to support research on teacher quality, cognition and learning, early childhood education, social and behavioral interventions, and financial and management reforms in education. The National Center for Special Education Research would receive flat funding of $71.8 million for ongoing research to improve special education and early intervention services for infants, toddlers and children with disabilities.

  • Department of Defense (DoD). The president’s FY 2008 budget includes a drastic cut (20.3 percent) in the DoD’s overall Science and Technology Program compared with FY 2007, falling to $10.9 billion. Basic and applied research and advanced technology development across all three services would face steep declines in support. Basic research funding at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, however, would rise 5 percent in FY 2008.

  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS). At first, DHS appeared to be one of the winners in the president’s budget, with a proposed 8 percent increase overall for 2008. Upon closer inspection, however, it was found that funding for the Science and Technology Directorate, which received cuts in the 2007 appropriation, drops again from $973 million to $880 million for 2008. A reorganization of the directorate in 2006 did raise the profile of behavioral science by including a new Human Factors Division that provides a permanent home for psychological research.

  • Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Within the VA, the Medical and Prosthetic Research Account would receive $411 million in the president’s FY 2008 budget. This represents a decrease from the likely FY 2007 level of $412 million, which itself represented flat funding compared with FY 2006.

  • National Institutes of Health (NIH). The administration’s request for NIH provides a $232 million or 0.8 percent increase over the spending level of FY 2007 continuing resolution, a total of $28.621 billion. However, the increase turns to a decrease in comparison with the FY 2007 joint funding resolution that passed Congress in late January. NIH as a whole would receive $511 million less than in the FY 2007 joint funding resolution: $310 million less in the budget of institutes and centers, and an increased tap from the NIH budget of $201 million for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

  • National Science Foundation (NSF). NSF would receive $6.43 billion in FY 2008, a 6.8 percent increase over the president’s federal year 2007 request and a 7.8 percent increase over the current House-passed FY 2007 level. The increase reflects a continued priority to double agencies’ research budgets for the physical sciences. Within the overall increase, the president proposed a 3.9 percent increase for the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate within NSF, bringing its funding to $222 million.

  • Older adults. The administration’s proposed FY 2008 budget requests $1.338 billion in funding for the Administration on Aging, a $27.7 million decrease from 2007. The most significant of these cuts would eliminate Preventive Health Services and Alzheimer’s disease Demonstration Grants. Also proposed are slight decreases in funding for the National Family Caregiver Support Program, nutrition services programs and the Long Term Care Ombudsmen Program. The budget includes a $10 million increase to program innovations to focus on community-based alternatives in long-term care.

  • HIV/AIDS. The FY 2008 budget request includes increased funding for two key programs dealing with HIV/AIDS. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would receive an additional $93 million for HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted disease and tuberculosis prevention, and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) would receive an additional $95 million for the Ryan White CARE Act, which provides services and care to individuals living with HIV/AIDS.

  • Women and their families. The president’s FY 2008 budget proposed flat funding for a variety of programs of importance to women and their families, including the Office of Women’s Health, family planning services, the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, Healthy Start, the National Domestic Violence Hotline and shelters for battered women. In addition, the budget proposes $45 million in cuts to the Office on Violence Against Women, as well as the elimination of the Women’s Educational Equity Act, which promotes equity in educational policies, programs, activities and initiatives.

  • Administration for Children and Families (ACF). Overall, the FY 2008 budget request seeks a $1.86 billion decrease in funds to ACF. This includes a $379 million cut to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the elimination of the Social Services Research and Demonstration program and Community Service Block Grants. The president’s budget includes increases of $10 million for child abuse programs and $28 million for Abstinence Education Discretionary Grants. Level funding was recommended for many programs in ACF, including Head Start, child welfare and adoption programs.

  • Veterans’ Mental Health Services. The administration’s FY 2008 budget proposes a slight increase in funding for mental health services provided by the Veterans Health Administration ($2.96 billion).

  • Trauma. The administration’s proposed FY 2008 budget calls for $1.35 million in cuts to the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative--designed to improve treatment, services and interventions for children and adolescents exposed to traumatic events.

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). President Bush’s 2008 budget request includes $159 million in cuts to SAMHSA. This includes the elimination of the Programs of Regional and National Significance for older adult mental health at SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS). Overall, the budget includes an approximate cut of $77 million to CMHS, including cuts to many critical programs such as youth-violence prevention, suicide prevention, transformation grants and post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition, nearly half of jail diversion funding would be cut, and most other critical programs would be level-funded. Moreover, the proposed budget would cut nearly $6.5 million in funding to the Pregnant and Postpartum Women program within SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.

Further Reading

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