Advocacy Alert: Feb. 6

President Obama Calls for Funding Increases for Key Federal Agencies, Limits on the Deductibility of Charitable Contributions

On Monday, Feb. 2, President Obama released his budget proposal for fiscal year 2016, which begins the annual process of setting funding levels for federal agencies and programs.
 
The president’s $4 trillion budget proposal includes increases for several federal agencies important to museums, including:
  • $35.1 million for the Office of Museum Services at the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a $5 million increase;
  • $147.9 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities, a $1.9 million increase;
  • $147.9 million for the National Endowment for the Arts, a $1.9 million increase;
  • $46.9 million for State Historic Preservation Offices, level funding;
  • $10 million for Tribal Historic Preservation Offices, a $1 million increase;
  • $30 million in new grants to preserve the sites and stories of the Civil Rights movement, part of a $50 million Civil Rights Initiative; 
  • $60 million for the Advancing Informal STEM Learning program at the National Science Foundation, a $5 million increase;
  • $18.5 million for the Science Education Partnership Award program at the National Institutes of Health, level funding;
  • $2.5 billion for National Park Service operations, a $239 million increase;
  • $936 million for the Smithsonian Institution, a $116 million increase; and
  • $372 million for the National Archives and Records Administration, a $7 million increase.
“By requesting funding increases for the federal agencies that support our nation’s museums, this proposal recognizes the key contributions that museums make to society,” said American Alliance of Museums President Ford W. Bell. “But given the budgetary battles we’re likely to see in Congress this year, the president is going to need all of us to weigh in with our legislators about how vital federal grants are. Museums Advocacy Day—and especially our Advocate from Anywhere efforts for those who cannot come to Washington, DC—will be a tremendous opportunity to make this case.”
 
The president’s budget plan also includes a proposed 28% cap on the value of itemized deductions, including those for charitable donations. This provision has been proposed numerous times by President Obama during his time in office, but it has never become law thanks to strong advocacy from the entire nonprofit sector.
 
“It’s extremely disappointing that the president continues to propose limiting the deductibility of charitable gifts, which make up a full one-third of museum budgets,” said Bell. “But I am confident that museum professionals will take this threat seriously and do their part to urge Congress to once again reject this proposal.”

You can read more about President Obama’s fiscal year 2016 budget request—released for the first time in an open-sourced format this year—and see the appendix for the most detailed information.
 
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