Bush Budget: History's winners & losers

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The "Teaching American History" grants program at the Department of Education would be substantially cut under the Bush proposal. In FY ‘06 the program received $120 million and the administration would slash that by over $70 million to $50 million in fiscal year 2008. The administration’s rationale is “the number of quality applications for assistance under this program in recent years does not justify the current level of funding.” Senator Robert C. Byrd, the original sponsor of the program, chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee. So one can assume that the proposed cut will not likely stand.

The Academies for American History and Civics, which supports workshops for teachers and students in those subjects, would be see their $2 million budget zeroed out.

NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION: The Bush administration’s proposed fiscal year 2008 budget calls for $379.5 million for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). This is an increase of $39.5 million over the FY 2007 appropriations of $340 million which is expected to be enacted as a year-long continuing resolution by the Congress.

Under the President’s FY 2008 request, NARA would receive $312.8 million for operating expenses; an increase of $34.6 million over the FY 2007 expected appropriation of $278.2 million. This includes funds to prepare for the George W. Bush Presidential Library, provide oversight by the agency’s Inspector General of the work to develop ways to preserve electronic records, and to continue work on reducing the backlog of unprocessed text records.

The operating expenses also include funds for the operation of the Richard M. Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California, which will become part of the NARA system of presidential libraries this year after being a privately-run institution since 1990.

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) once again had its budget zeroed out in the Bush administration’s FY ‘08 budget request, and our annual battle to restore funding for this vital program begins anew.

The Electronic Records Archives (ERA) program, a key NARA strategic goal aimed at providing a means to preserve electronic records and make them more accessible in the future, is funded in the FY 2008 request at $58 million which is $13 million over the expected FY 2007 appropriation. This higher funding level for ERA will allow NARA to maintain progress on increment 1 of the system, which is scheduled to begin this fall.

For repairs and restoration to facilities owned by NARA, such as the National Archives at College Park, the National Archives Building in downtown Washington, and the presidential libraries, the President's FY
2008 budget requests $8.6 million.

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE–HISTORIC PRESERVATION PROGRAMS: Overall, the National Park Service would receive the largest budget increase in its history, an additional $258 million over the amount it received in fiscal year 2006. The centerpiece of the budget is the "National Parks Centennial Initiative," a ten-year effort to improve the nation’s parks prior to the NPS centennial in 2016. In releasing the budget, President Bush announced the “National Parks Centennial Challenge,” which has the potential of providing $3 billion in new funds over the next ten years. It includes a federal commitment of $100 million annually in discretionary funds, and a challenge to the private sector and the public to contribute $100 million, with a match of another $100 million in mandatory federal funding.

The 2008 budget includes $63.7 million for historic preservation programs. The budget allocates $10 million for the "Save America’s Treasures" program, $10 million for "Preserve America," and $43.7 million for historic preservation grants-in-aid to states, territories and Indian tribes. It would also establish a National Inventory of Historic Properties grant program. Matching grants of $4 million would be available to states, tribes, local governments, and federal land management agencies to make inventories more accessible. The budget also provides $10 million for heritage areas. The Heritage Partnership Program provides seed money for congressionally designated, but locally managed, national heritage areas.

NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES: The National Endowment for the Humanities would see a small increase of $400,000 over the amount the administration requested last year for total funding of $141 million. The “We the People” initiative that focuses on the teaching and learning of American history and culture would receive $15.2 million. Two new “We the People” programs would be initiated. The “We The People Videoshelf” would distribute American films that focus on historical events and themes to libraries nationwide. The second program would be run in conjunction with the State Department and bring foreign school teachers and humanities practitioners to the U.S. to participate in Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops.

The NEH’s new Digital Humanities Initiative would receive funding of $1.4 million, which will support projects that use, or study the impact of, digital technology on research, education, preservation, and public programming in the humanities.

Funding for NEH’s Federal and State Partnership programs would increase by $133,000, but Education, Preservation and Access, Public Programs, Research, and Challenge Grants would all be cut.

The National Endowment for the Arts would receive $128.4 million or a $4 million increase.

SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION: The budget request for the Smithsonian is $678.4 million. Of that amount, $571.3 million is for salaries and expenses and the facilities capital budget is $107.1 million. Included in the request is nearly $10 million for planning and staffing of the new National Museum of African-American History and Culture, which will eventually be built on the National Mall. The capital budget will help fund the continuing renovation of the National Museum of American History-Behring Center, which is scheduled to reopen in 2008.

INSTITUTE OF MUSEUM AND LIBRARY SERVICES: The President’s budget request for the Institute of Museum and Library Services is $271 million, which is
$24 million or almost 10 percent more than it received in 2006. Library grants would be funded at $214 million and museum grants at almost $40 million. These amounts reflect nearly $8 million in new funding for each grant program.

Both the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation would be flat-funded at $9 million and $6 million respectively.

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