President’s Budget Would Fully Fund FRPP, Boost LWCF
On Monday, President Obama submitted his Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2013, which begins October 1. The President’s budget is only a proposal to the Congress. It is up to the Congress to implement it -- or do something different -- through changes in law and appropriations legislation. It does, however, set a tone for the year and provides you a good opportunity to tell the Appropriations Committees which programs you think should get more funding.
Agriculture Budget Would Provide $200 Million for FRPP
For the second year in a row, President Obama asked that the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP) receive its entire funding baseline of $200 million, an increase from $150 million appropriated last year. That’s a strong vote of confidence for your farmland protection work and comes in marked contrast to the cuts proposed in his first two budgets.
Unfortunately, the budget bows to the looming reality that, absent a new Farm Bill, the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP), Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), and Healthy Forests Reserve Program (HFRP) will not have any funding authorization after October 1. As such, the request includes only minimal funding for existing agreements and ongoing stewardship. Read more about our work on the next farm bill and sign a new letter to support the farm bill conservation programs.
Interior Budget Boosts Land and Water Conservation Fund by a Third
While far short of the aspirational request for $900 million last year, this year’s request would increase the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to $450 million, compared to $323 million this year. Here’s a breakdown of LWCF and other important programs in the Interior budget:
- The Forest Legacy Program (FLP) would receive $60 million, an increase of $7 million.
- LWCF Federal Acquisition would receive $269.9 million, an increase of $70 million, while LWCF State Grants increase by $15 million to $60 million.
- The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) would receive $39.4 million, an increase of $4 million
- For details on other programs, we've created a summary table of recent appropriations levels.
The budget also proposes reauthorizing the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA), which allows sales of excess federal property to fund acquisition of inholdings and properties adjacent to federal lands with high conservation values.
The budget release is a great excuse to call Appropriations Committee members to applaud increases for programs you care about. View the House and Senate committee lists, then call members from your area via the capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for their Appropriations staffers.
Tax Proposals: Extend the Incentive, Restrict Golf Course Easements, Cap Deductions
Unexpectedly, the budget also proposes a ban on deductions for donations of conservation easements on golf courses. No one at either the IRS or Treasury Department had discussed such a proposal with the Alliance. This idea was first discussed by the Senate Finance Committee in 2005, along with many other “reform” suggestions (including eliminating the deduction for easement donations entirely). What seems to have put this on the list now is the IRS losing their Tax Court case to deny the tax deduction for the Kiva Dunes property in Alabama in 2009. The IRS thought it could win a court case against a golf course easement, and failed to do so -- in no small part because they chose a case that could clearly demonstrate significant conservation values (Kiva Dunes is open to the public, full of forested wetlands and immediately adjacent to a National Wildlife Refuge). It’s unclear whether this proposal will gain traction, but we will be closely monitoring it.
This year’s budget again proposes limits on the extent to which high income individuals can wipe out their tax liability with itemized deductions, including the charitable deduction. These proposals include a 28% cap on the effective benefit of itemized deductions, the “Buffett Rule” for high-income taxpayers, and a return of the “Pease” limit on deductions. Read more from Independent Sector.
The following are recent funding levels for the programs we follow most closely. All amounts are in millions, rounded to the nearest $100k. Please let us know if you're looking for additional details. Federal budgeting is an extremely complex process, so please let us know if you think we've gotten any of these numbers wrong. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
|FY11 Enacted||FY12 Obama Budget||FY12 House2||FY12 Senate||FY12 Enacted||FY13 Obama Budget|
|Farm and Ranch lands Protection Program (FRPP)||$150.0||$175.0||$175.0||$200.0||$150.0||$150.0||$150.0||$200.0|
|Grassland Reserve Program (GRP)||$100.7||$78.6||$78.6||$66.7||$86.7||$66.7||$86.7||$5.06|
|Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)3||$453.0||$58.0||$301.0||$900.0||$90.8||$327.4||$322.9||$450.0|
|LWCF Federal Acquisition4||$277.9||$52.0||$176.9||$465.0||$78.0||$199.4||$199.5||$269.9|
|LWCF State Grants||$40.0||$0||$40.0||$200.0||$2.8||$45.0||$45.0||$60.0|
|Forest Legacy Program (FLP)||$79.5||$6.0||$52.9||$135.0||$10.0||$58.0||$53.4||$60.0|
|Cooperative Endangered Species Fund (Section 6) Land Acquisition5||$56.0||$0||$31.0||$100.0||$0||$25.0||$25.0||$60.0|
|North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA)||$48.0||$0||$37.4||$50.0||$20.0||$35.6||$35.6||$39.4|
|State Wildlife Grants (SWG)||$90.0||$0||$61.6||$95.0||$22.0||$61.4||$61.4||$61.3|
|Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI)||$475.0||$225.0||$300.0||$300.0||$250.0||$300.0||$300.0||$300.0|
1 After Congress failed to enact FY11 appropriations in 2010, the incoming Republican House proposed severe cuts in a bill designated H.R. 1. The marked improvement in the FY 2012 House Interior bill demonstrates the impact of our education efforts on House freshmen.
2 These FY 2012 House numbers include $29 million restored to LWCF through successful amendments proposed by Reps. Hinchey, Hayworth, Bass and Tipton (including $7 million for Forest Legacy). The House Interior bill never passed in its amended form.
3 These LWCF totals include the italicized programs below, LWCF Federal acquisition, LWCF State Grants, Forest Legacy Program, and Section 6 Land Acquisition.
4 This subtotal includes acquisition funding directed to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and National Park Service (NPS), along with funding for the Office of Valuation Services (OVS). For breakdowns by agency and project, see our LWCF & Forest Legacy page.
5 Most of these numbers reflect only the portion of Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation grants derived from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for land acquisition. President Obama's budget requests have drawn all Cooperative Endangered Species funding from LWCF, and thus should be compared to the program totals. Total enacted funding for FY10, 11 and 12 was $85 m, $59.9 m, and $47.8 m respectively.
6 This budget bows to the looming reality that, absent a new Farm Bill, the Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) will not have any funding authorization after October 1. As such, the request includes only minimal funding for existing agreements and ongoing stewardship.