Budget 101: What the President’s New Plan Means for Women
Every year, on the first Monday in February, the president sends a budget proposal to Congress. That budget covers the next fiscal year, which begins in October. While Congress will end up passing its own proposal (or proposals), the president’s budget kicks things off. AAUW pays close attention to the president’s plan — it’s a signal of where women and girls stand in the administration’s work and a place where good ideas often get their start.
This year, in a $4 trillion FY16 budget from the president, several new initiatives are included. The main focus? Middle class economics. Key to that approach is a rejection of Congress’ plans to continue a policy of austerity through cuts or sequestration. AAUW agrees; it’s time for Congress to pass and enact a budget that will end the thoughtless cuts and needless harms of sequestration. This must happen by increasing investment in nondefense spending, like education and programs to help working families, in addition to supporting our military.
Outlined in the State of the Union were several new priorities that the president’s budget explains in more detail: free community college for some students, early childhood education and child care, and investments in paid family leave. The measures may not have a high likelihood of becoming part of Congress’ budget, but they are certainly proposals that AAUW’s supports.
We’ll also be watching how Congress reacts to
- Investments in the Pell Grant program: The president’s budget proposes a maximum grant of $5,775 in school year 2015–16 and continues to index Pell Grants to inflation after 2017.
- Support for ending campus sexual assault and enforcing Title IX: The Department of Education proposes hiring an additional 200 staff members to help with civil rights enforcement, and the Department of Justice would provide additional grants to focus on campus sexual violence.
- Continuing the work of the Department of Labor Women’s Bureau: In recent years this bureau, which is the only government department dedicated solely to the needs of working women, has seen reduced funding. The president’s budget proposes continuing the current amount, $12 million, for FY16 and providing additional support to Department of Labor programs to analyze and start paid family leave initiatives in the states.
- What’s missing: Unfortunately, the president’s budget isn’t all positive proposals. The Women’s Educational Equity Act, an AAUW priority that authorizes grants to support Title IX compliance, continues to receive no funding. And the administration has again zeroed out support for an effective program to move women into nontraditional fields, the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) grants.
Want to comment on the president’s budget proposals? Check out the White House’s open-sourced budget explainer to find out how.