News and analysis
February 03, 2015

Nonprofits and Government Agencies React to Obama's Proposed Budget

Nonprofit organizations and grant-making government agencies had a mix of praise and criticism for a nearly $4-trillion budget package for fiscal year 2016 that was formally released by the White House on Monday.

Many of the key line items were made public last month, with President Obama crisscrossing the country to plug proposals including two years of free community college, state paid-leave, and a higher estate tax. A major point of contention for charity leaders is the President’s call to cap the value of all itemized deductions at 28 percent for individuals earning more than $200,000 and couples earning more than $250,000.

Very little of the proposed budget will remain intact through negotiations—Republican members of Congress began tearing it apart before it even hit their desks.

Below is a roundup of proposed funding levels and reaction from charity and government officials:

  • The proposal would provide $1.18-billion for the Corporation for National and Community Service, said chief executive Wendy Spencer, supporting a record 90,150 AmeriCorps members while creating service opportunities for 270,000 Americans via Senior Corps. 
  • Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, said in a statement to the Chronicle that the $147-million in funding for NEA, an increase of about 1.3 percent, would allow for the expansion of a program that provides arts therapy for military-service members suffering from traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress. 
  • The proposed $147-million in funding to the National Endowment for the Humanities, a 1.3 percent increase, would provide more than $100-million in grants and matching funds, as well as $5.5-million for a new initiative designed to highlight the importance of the humanities in public life, according to a statement.
  • Kris Perry, executive director of the First Five Years Fund, said that the President’s budget proposal would provide “significant funding” to expand early-childhood education programs, including $80-billion in increased funding for the Child Care Development Fund.
  • Elliott Antman, president of the American Heart Association, praised a precision medicine initiative outlined in the budget, while noting that the budget makes research a higher priority. 
  • In a statement to the Chronicle, Bob Zachritz, vice president for advocacy and government relations at World Vision U.S., said the proposed budget “makes a strong commitment to the international affairs budget, which will help partner organizations like World Vision meet the needs of the most vulnerable around the world.”
  • William Daroff, senior vice president for public policy for the Jewish Federations of North America, said the administration should protect charitable deductions, not try and limit them. “As many in Congress agree, the deduction is a lifeline and not a loophole,” he said.
  • Regardless of what is ultimately passed by Congress, the proposal is a good reflection of the President’s priorities, said Neal Denton, senior vice president and chief government affairs officer for the YMCA of the USA. “We’re especially happy to see his focus on ensuring opportunities for children and families to learn, grow, and thrive,” he said, noting line items that would increase access to child care and early education, among other things.
  • The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health criticized the budget for failing to lift the Hyde Amendment, which limits abortion coverage for women in programs including Medicaid and Medicare. “We remain concerned that low-income women and immigrant communities are left behind by many of the proposals,” executive director Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas said.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on February 2 and updated with additional reaction.

Send an e-mail to Megan O'Neil.