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OBAMA LIMITS 2014 INDIAN AFFAIRS BUDGET, WHILE ATTEMPTING TO STRENGTHEN, SUPPORT TRIBES

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WASHINGTON — President Obama’s FY-2014 budget request for Indian Affairs, which includes BIA and BIE, is $2.6 billion—representing a mere $31.3 million increase over last year.

The proposed budget is aimed at attempting to meet government’s responsibilities to tribes, while exercising tough fiscal responsibility, and striving to improve operations and efficiency.

The White House hopes a limited budget with cuts will assure congressional approval in the face of unswerving political opposition to new spending in the Republican House.

“The President’s budget request ... reflects his ... commitment to keeping our focus on ... tribal nations, and protecting Indian Country,” said Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn. “While realizing the benefits from improvements … the request supports our mission to ... tribes, particularly ... trust lands and natural resource protection. The request also promotes economic development, improves education ... law enforcement and justice administration.”

Strengthening Initiative

Strengthening Nations Initiative is a multiyear effort to advance the President’s desire to improve conditions and foster economic opportunities on reservations. 

The budget includes $120 million in increases for maintenance and development of natural resources, public safety applying lessons learned, detention facilities, self-governance, and payments for water rights settlements.

Provides increased funding for post-secondary education and an elementary and secondary school pilot program based on turnaround schools.

Advancing Relationships

Budget for Contract Support Costs is $231 million—a $9.8 million increase. The Self-Determination Act allows tribes to operate federal programs in support of self-governance. Tribes rely on contract support to pay cost of administering.

Because of Salazar v. Ramah Navajo Chapter, budget includes Administration’s interim solution to budgeting support costs, proposing Congress appropriate on a contract by contract basis and providing a funding table. Through tribal consultation, this leads to a long-term solution, and a simpler, more streamlined support process.

Protecting Indian Country

Budget for BIA Public Safety & Justice is $363.4 million; increases of $5.5 million for law enforcement, $13.4 million for detention and $1 million for courts.

Request includes $3 million increase in BIA Human Services for domestic violence. A partnership between Human Services and police will address locations with high domestic violence, improving teamwork between police and social services to rapidly address domestic violence, and expand services and care for victims.

Budget for law enforcement is $199.7 million, a $5.5 million increase. Funding for CIs and police will allow hiring personnel. Request includes $96.9 million for detention; increase of $13.4 million.

Request includes $24.4 million for courts, an increase of $1 million: for judges, prosecutors, public defenders, court clerks, probation officers, juvenile officers, support staff, training and administrative costs.

Budget supports BIA’s successful pilot program, reducing violent crimes by 5 percent in 24 months on four reservations. Program successfully reduced violent crime by 35 percent.

Trust Management

Land into trust is important for tribes, whose homelands are essential to health, safety and economic well-being. BIA assists tribes and landowners in development and protection of lands and natural resources totaling 55 million acres and 57 million acres subsurface.

Over two years, Department overhauled the fee-to-trust process. In 2012, Interior placed 37,971 acres into trust and approved 299 applications. Over four years, Indian Affairs processed 1,000 applications and acquired 196,600 acres.

Budget for Trust-Natural Resources Management, assisting tribes in developing and protecting lands and resources, is $189.2 million; increase of $34.4 million. Increases support stewardship and development, resource management and decisions in energy, minerals, climate, oceans, water rights protection and endangered species.

Request for Trust-Real Estate Services is $128.9 million; increase of $7.7 million. Program carries out trust services, probate, land titles and records.

Advancing Education

Budget for BIE is $802.8 million; increase of $6.7 million. AIE initiative addresses needs from elementary through post secondary and adult education. Budget supports academic achievement with a $15 million pilot program to turnaround lower performing schools, provides $2.5 million to colleges, and $3 million for a science scholarship fund. And $2 million for grant support.

Achieving Results

Indian Affairs is reducing administrative costs. Along with $7.1 million, budget includes a reduction of $19.7 million to reflect savings from streamlining. Request includes $13.8 million in savings from contracts, fleet management, awards, and travel. 

Indian Arts and Crafts Board. Budget proposes to transfer $1.3 million for IACB, allowing implementation of Arts and Crafts Act, to combat counterfeiting, and management of three museums.

Program Cutbacks:

• Housing Improvement Program. (-$12.6 million) Eliminates HIP. Tribes may use HUD to assist applicants.

• Police Special Initiatives. (-$2.6 million) Reflects decreased sharing in intelligence.

• Indian Student Equalization Program. (ISEP) (-$16.5 million) Offsets $15 million for a turnaround program.

• Replacement School Construction. (-$17.8 million) Program will improve conditions in schools through Facilities Improvement and Repair.

• Guaranteed Loan Program. (-$2.1 million) Funding level of $5 million will guarantee $70 million in loans.

—Edited and condensed from a White House release.

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