Last week, Congress passed its final FY2018 budget framework. It included instructions for what is called “budget reconciliation,” a process by which Congress can consider an additional piece of legislation per fiscal year to be included in a final budget package. Budget reconciliation was the process by which the Affordable Care Act originally passed. Congress was utilizing FY2017 budget reconciliation this summer to potentially pass a healthcare repeal bill, but it never came to fruition. Congress is utilizing FY2018 budget reconciliation to now negotiate a potential tax reform package. To learn more about how you can weigh in with your members of Congress on tax reform, read Tax Reform Presents an Opportunity to Get the PHIT Act Done.
It’s important to keep in mind that although Congress has passed its FY2018 budget framework, the spending levels for individual programs (called appropriations) have not been finalized. This past fiscal year, the majority of our priority programs fared well (see Federal Budget Avoids Drastic Cuts to Park and Rec Funding…For Now), especially in light of proposed cuts and program eliminations. Our best bet for FY2018 will be to maintain the funding levels of FY2017.
In fact, negotiations amongst appropriators who will decide on the FY2018 funding levels have taken a positive turn for our priorities. A vote by both the House and Senate in September restored the funding cuts originally proposed to the 21st Century Community Learning Center Program (see Afterschool Funding Saved).
Maintaining current funding may not be an ideal ask, but given the current political environment and fight over scarce resources, it’s realistic. Join us in asking your members of Congress to maintain FY2017 funding levels for all of our priority programs so that we can keep up the great work happening through parks and recreation nationwide and set ourselves up for more robust funding requests in future years.