2018 Budget Proposes a $2.5 Billion for Indian Affairs

Published May 23, 2017

Budget Invests in Education, Resource Development, Construction and Infrastructure

WASHINGTON –President Donald Trump today proposed a $2.5 billion Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget for Indian Affairs, which includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE). The President’s budget reaffirms his support of tribal sovereignty and self-determination across Indian Country by focusing on core funding and services to support ongoing tribal government operations, including an emphasis on infrastructure repair and improvements.

“President Trump promised the American people he would cut wasteful spending and make the government work for the taxpayer again, and that’s exactly what this budget does,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.  “Working carefully with the President, we identified areas where we could reduce spending and also areas for investment, such as addressing the maintenance backlog in our National Parks and increasing domestic energy production on federal lands.  The budget also allows the Department to return to the traditional principles of multiple-use management to include both responsible natural resource development and conservation of special places.  Being from the West, I’ve seen how years of bloated bureaucracy and D.C.-centric policies hurt our rural communities.  The President’s budget saves taxpayers by focusing program spending, shrinking bureaucracy, and empowering the front lines.”

“President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget request for Indian Affairs strongly reflects his proposed investments in education, energy development, and infrastructure which focus on enhancing tribal prosperity through tribal, rather than federal efforts,” said Michael S. Black, acting Assistant Secretary – Indian Affairs.  “We will achieve that by refocusing our resources into those programs that are most effective in supporting tribal self-determination.”

Indian Affairs plays an important role in carrying out the federal government’s trust, treaty and other responsibilities to the nation’s 567 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes.

Operation of Indian Programs

The FY18 budget proposal for Indian Affairs operational programs is $2.1 billion.

It includes $786.4 million for Advancing Indian Education, an investment that supports a vision for a 21st century Indian education system, grounded in both high academic standards and tribal values and traditions. The funding will allow for the comprehensive reorganization of the BIE to continue in FY18.  The request proposes $643.9 million for Elementary and Secondary Education programs, $118.4 million for Post-Secondary programs, and $24.0 million for education management.

In its role as a capacity builder and service provider to support tribes in educating their youth and delivering world-class and culturally appropriate education across Indian Country, the budget request for Indian education focuses on direct school operations including classroom instruction, text books, student transportation, language development programs, Gifted and Talented programs, school maintenance, and in some remotely located schools, residential costs.  Importantly, the budget continues to invest in activities that promote educational self-determination for Tribal communities.  Accordingly, the budget proposes $74.4 million, an increase of $1.2 million, to fully fund Tribal Grant Support Costs for tribes that choose to operate BIE-funded schools.

The FY18 Operation of Indian Programs request for Supporting Indian Families and Protecting Indian Country includes:

·         $123.9 million for BIA Office of Indian Services programs that provide social services, welfare assistance and Indian Child Welfare Act protections, all of which contribute to Indian Affairs’ mission to promote the development of prosperous tribal communities.

·         $349.3 million for the BIA’s Office of Justice Services to support 190 law enforcement programs and 96 corrections programs operated by tribes and by the BIA as direct services, including $22.0 million for tribal courts and $1.3 million for fire protection.

The FY18 request for Supporting Sustainable Stewardship of Trust Resources and Lands supports Indian Affairs’ fiduciary trust responsibilities and sustainable stewardship of trust lands, natural resources and the environment in Indian Country.  The budget proposes $112.0 million for the BIA’s Real Estate Services programs, which includes probating Indian trust assets, land title and records processing, geospatial support needs, and database management. The budget also proposes $165.5 million for the BIA’s Natural Resource Management programs, which assist tribes in the management, development and protection of Indian trust land and natural resources on 56 million surface acres and 59 million acres of subsurface mineral estates.

The budget supports the Administration’s focus on infrastructure with proposed increases totaling $12.3 million, including $3.8 million programs in the operations account for programs that support deferred maintenance projects for resource management infrastructure and roads. The budget includes:

·         An additional $2.6 million for irrigation project operations and maintenance. This program serves the 17 Indian irrigation projects in the BIA’s asset inventory, 15 of which generate revenues that are used to fund most of their operations and maintenance. Annual receipts for the revenue-generating projects exceeded $33 million in 2016, which are reinvested into the projects.

·         An increase of $1.2 million for the BIA’s Roads program for deferred maintenance projects. The program has maintenance responsibility for approximately 29,000 miles of BIA-owned roads and over 900 bridges.

The FY18 budget request also proposes $24.7 million for Minerals and Mining programs.  Funding includes continued commitment to the Indian Energy Service Center, which was initially funded in 2016.  Income from energy production is the largest source of revenue generated from trust lands, with royalty income of $534 million in 2016.

The FY18 request proposes $627.0 million for Tribal Priority Allocations, a $63.0 million decrease from the FY17 CR level.  

Contract Support Costs

The President’s FY18 budget requests $241.6 million for Contract Support Costs, which support the tribes’ ability to assume responsibility for operating federal programs, maintains the Administration’s strong support for the principle of tribal self-determination and strengthening tribal communities across Indian Country.  Based on the most recent analysis of funding levels in the 2018 request, the proposed amount will fully fund contract support costs. 

Construction

The budget request for Construction is $143.3 million, which supports the Administration’s focus on Maintaining Essential Infrastructure and Resources.

It includes proposed increases totaling $12.3 million, including $8.5 million programs in the construction account, for deferred maintenance projects for resource management infrastructure and other BIA construction and deferred maintenance programs. The request proposes:

·         An additional $2.5 million for the Safety of Dams program, which is currently responsible for 138 high or significant-hazard dams located on 42 Indian reservations, $1.8 million for dam maintenance, and $0.7 million for Survey and Design.

·         An additional $1.5 million for irrigation projects rehabilitation.  The irrigation rehabilitation program addresses critical deferred maintenance and construction work on BIA-owned and operated irrigation facilities, with a focus on health and safety concerns.  Most facilities are reaching 100 years old and are in need of major capital improvements.

·         An increase request of $2.0 million for deferred maintenance needs of regional and agency facilities at 127 locations to address safety, security and handicap accessibility issues where Indian programs are administered.

The budget provides $80.2 million for education construction programs to address deferred maintenance needs at the 183 campuses in the BIE school system.  The proposal for construction projects is focused on continuing the planning and design of the 10 schools on the BIE’s 2016 School Replacement List as well as major improvement and repair projects at other education facilities.

Land and Water Claims Settlements

The FY18 request for authorized settlements payments is $14.0 million.  Funding will support payments to enacted settlements authorized for appropriations.  At the proposed funding level, the Department can continue to honor commitments within the statutory requirements for completion.  These settlements resolve tribal land and water rights claims and ensure that tribes have access to land and water to meet their domestic, economic and cultural needs.

Indian Guaranteed Loan Program

The FY18 budget request for this program is $6.7 million.  The funding level will guarantee $87.4 million in loan principal to support Indian economic development. 

Indian Affairs’ FY18 Budget Justification is available here, and additional details on the President’s FY18 Budget Request are available on the Department’s website.  Visithttps://www.doi.gov/budget/appropriations/2018/highlights to view the Department’s Budget in Brief.

The BIA’s mission includes developing and protecting Indian trust lands and natural and energy resources; supporting social welfare, public safety and justice in tribal communities; and promoting tribal self-determination and self-governance.  For more information, visit the Indian Affairs website.  The BIE implements federal Indian education programs and funds 183 elementary and secondary day and boarding schools (of which two-thirds are tribally operated) located on 64 reservations in 23 states and peripheral dormitories serving over 47,000 individual students. BIE also operates two post-secondary schools, administers grants for 28 tribally controlled colleges and universities and two tribal technical colleges, and provides higher education scholarships to Native youth. For more information, visit the Bureau of Indian Education website.

The post 2018 Budget Proposes a $2.5 Billion for Indian Affairs appeared first on Native News Online.

This BBSNews article was syndicated from Native News Online, and written by Native News Online Staff. Read the original article here.