President Releases FY2016 Budget
President Obama released his proposed $4 trillion budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 on February 2, 2015. The President’s proposal will now be considered by Congress, which has already indicated its opposition to many of his proposals. Agency proposals with a direct impact on many surface finishing operations are discussed below.
Environmental Protection Agency
The President has requested $8.14 billion in funding for EPA in FY16. His proposal maintains climate change programs as its top priority, including carbon standards and other clean air initiatives. Also included are additional funding for remediation and water infrastructure grants for states, increased funding for additional site cleanups through the Hazardous Substance Superfund (6% increase over FY15), funding to enhance chemical facility security (in partnership with Homeland Security), and $4 billion in mandatory funding for clean power project incentives.
According to EPA’s budget justification, it has requested the following funding level increases for it’s FY2014-2018 Strategic Plan goals:
|Funding Level Increases Above FY15 Enacted Budget
|+ $120 million
||Goal 1: To protect and improve air quality for all Americans and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop adaptation strategies to address climate change.
|+ $70 million
||Goal 2: To protect and restore America’s waters to ensure that drinking water is safe and sustainably managed and that aquatic ecosystems sustain fish, plants, wildlife, and other biota, as well as economic, recreational and subsistence activities.
|+ $178 million
||Goal 3: To clean up communities, advance sustainable development, and protect disproportionately impacted low-income and minority communities from the releases of harmful substances.
|+ $47 million
||Goal 4: To ensure the safety of chemicals in our environment, reduce the risk, and prevent pollution at the source.
|+ $66 million
||Goal 5: To protect human health and the environment through vigorous and targeted civil and criminal enforcement and use Next Generation Compliance strategies and tools to improve compliance with environmental laws.
Notably for surface finishing operations, the EPA budget justification states that “in support of the White House Executive order to Improve Chemical Facility Safety and Security, the EPA has been working with other federal partners to bring together federal regulatory representatives and stakeholders with a vested interest in reducing the risks associated with the handling and storage of chemicals…In FY 2016, we expect to implement actions to incorporate stakeholder feedback and best practices to strengthen community planning and preparedness, enhance federal operational coordination, improve data management, and modernize policies and regulation.”
For detailed information on the FY16 Budget Request, click here.
Department of Labor & OSHA
The Department of Labor has requested $13.2 billion in discretionary funding for FY 2016, a $1.3 billion increase (10.9%) over the FY 2015 enacted budget. The request includes increased funding for: employment services for the unemployed, the number of registered apprenticeships, development of industry credentials in job training programs, state incentive programs to launch paid leave programs, and reforms to the unemployment insurance program, among others.
This request also includes $592 million for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and increase of $39 million (7%) over last year’s enacted budget. As outlined in the Administration’s request, this funding would include the following programmatic increases:
- $5,150,000 and 23 Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs) to enable the agency to implement Executive Order (EO) 13650, “Improving Chemical Facility Safety and Security,” including the modernization of OSHA’s PSM Standard and other chemical-related standards and the development of related guidance materials.
- $6,700,000 and 40 FTEs to support the implementation of the Rapid Response Investigation protocols to manage the workload resulting from the enhanced reporting requirements in the 2014 revisions to the Recordkeeping Standard, which require employers to report work-related hospitalizations, amputations, and losses of an eye.
- $3,402,000 and 22 FTEs to strengthen the whistleblower program, including 10 FTEs for Whistleblower Investigators to address increased workload in FY 2016; 7 FTEs for Investigative Assistants to reduce the administrative burden on Whistleblower Investigators and supervisors, and improve case processing efficiency; and 5 FTEs to handle training and program management activities including statistical analysis, IT development, and auditing functions.
- $3,487,000 to give State Plans the resources to enhance enforcement of the 11(c) whistleblower protection statute and to provide State Plan States with the resources to run programs that are as effective as OSHA’s Federal Enforcement.
- $3,900,000 and five FTE,s of which $3,000,000 would be used to consolidate OSHA’s existing databases within DOL’s consolidated database center. An additional request of $900,000 and five FTEs would support a new data analytics unit.
Furthermore, “OSHA’s FY 2016 budget request also includes a proposed amendment to its appropriation language to allow targeted inspections of small establishments that may have potential for catastrophic incidents (e.g., those with Process Safety Management (PSM) or the EPA’s Risk Management Program-covered processes). The current appropriations language limits OSHA’s ability to conduct safety and health inspections of small businesses (10 or fewer employees) in industry codes that have lower-than-average workplace injury and illness rates. Neither the number of workers in a company nor low injury and illness rates, however, is predictive of the potential for high-consequence catastrophic incidents, resulting in multiple casualties and extensive property damage that can damage whole communities. This would not apply to farming, harvesting, or processing operations on farms.“
Congressman John Kline (R-MN), Chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, has already voiced criticism of the President’s budget request, stating that it represents “more spending, more taxes, and more government” and that rather “we must provide employers with certainty and flexibility so they can grow their businesses, create jobs, and give workers the raise they’ve earned.”
To view a complete summary of DOL’s budget request, click here.
National Labor Relations Board
The President requested an additional $3.8 million for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and an additional $3 million for the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), representing a 1.4% and 6.7% increase over FY15 respectively. The National Mediation Board’s budget would remain the same. This represents total budget requests of $278 million for the NLRB, $48.75 million for the FMCS, and $13.23 million for the NMB. These requests are in part a response to the NLRB’s projections of increased financial costs for administration law judge hearings and for field investigations.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requested $373 million for FY16, an increase of $8.6 million over FY15. This funding increase represents proposed pay increases for staff, rent and relocation expenses, and technology updates.
Department of Homeland Security
The President’s FY16 proposal is largely similar to the FY15 budget levels in legislation Congress is currently considering. Under normal procedures the FY15 funding would have passed in the last Congress, but given disagreements between Republicans and Democrats in the last Congress, an agreement was reached to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) only through February of this year. As a result, congressional Republicans and the President will still have to pass a funding bill for the remainder of this year before considering the FY16 proposal. This has proven to be an early battle in Congress, however, as the current Republican-proposed legislation contains policy riders that would limit the President’s executive actions on immigration, including protecting immigrants from deportation, providing them with work authorization, and providing protections for children who were illegally brought into the U.S. – provisions in the current legislation that many Democrats strongly oppose and the President will be likely to veto unless compromise is reached.
The FY16 proposal is requesting total budget authority of $64.9 billion, including $41.2 billion in net discretionary funds, a 3.8% increase in the funding being considered in the FY15 spending bill and a 7.9% increase over his FY15 request. The top priorities highlighted in DHS’ budget request include funding to secure the border, protect against cyber attacks, and prepare for natural disasters.
For an overview of DHS’ FY 2016 budget request, click here.