Today, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) highlighted the commitments to education, worker-training, manufacturing, clean energy, infrastructure and mental health laid out in President Obama's Fiscal Year 2014 budget outline.
"Deficit reduction is critical, but only in a responsible, balanced manner that continues to make the investments necessary to grow our economy, create jobs and strengthen the middle class," said Congresswoman Matsui. "I am pleased that the President is proposing a balanced approach that will make key investments in areas such as education, job training, health care, clean energy, manufacturing, and infrastructure, while also reducing the deficit an additional $1.8 trillion. While I am concerned about some provisions in the budget, these investments will help our country continue its path toward economic recovery, building a stronger America for the future."
The President's budget includes a number of provisions designed to strengthen small businesses, create new jobs, and ensure that employees are being paid a living wage. Included in the budget outline was a provision to raise the national minimum wage to $9 an hour. It also creates a $12.5 billion Pathways Back to Work fund to make it easier for workers to remain connected to the workforce and gain new skills for long-term employment. This initiative will support summer and year round jobs for low-income youth, subsidized employment opportunities and job training for unemployed and low income adults.
"The economy continues to be the top issue facing our country, and the President's plan would help put Americans back to work, said Matsui. "By ensuring employees who work hard are paid a living wage, this budget plan will help create jobs and strengthen our economy."
The President's budget makes significant investments in our nation's education. To build a foundation for success in the formative early years of life, the budget outlines a proposal to increase access to high-quality early childhood education. The Preschool for All initiative would invest $75 billion over 10 years in high-quality preschool and is financed by raising the federal tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products. It will make college more affordable by sustaining the maximum Pell Grant award and preventing student loan interest rates from doubling this summer.
"We must invest in the strongest possible education for our youth. Investing in our children's education now will not only position them better in the future, but will also ensure that our country is competitive in the global economy," said Matsui. "The President's budget proposal includes key provisions that will ensure children get the best possible education, that college is affordable and accessible, and that our students and workers have the foundation to compete now and in the future."
The budget shows continued support for the United State's clean energy sector. Funding for clean energy technology activities has been increased by more than 40 percent above the 2012 level. It continues to place a pri¬ority on funding to accelerate R&D and further increase the cost-competitiveness and deployment of renewable power, electric vehicles, next-generation biofuels, advanced energy-efficient manufacturing, and energy efficiency in homes and commercial buildings.
"Investing in clean energy technology will help create good jobs, strengthen our economy, and address both our national security and environmental needs. To stay competitive in this global economy, energy efficiency must continue playing a large role in our energy future," said Matsui.
The President's budget also seeks to expand mental health services for youth and families through a $130 million initiative. This funding will be used to help teachers and other adults recognize signs of mental illness in young people, provide students with needed services such as counseling, improve mental health services for young people ages 16-25, and train more mental health professionals with a focus on serving students and young adults.
"It is time for mental health to be treated on a level playing field with the rest of our nation's healthcare system. The federal government must step up and protect the mental health safety net, which has faced tremendous struggles across the country. This new initiative in the President's budget is a good first step but we have more work to do to ensure that all Americans have access to the mental health services they need," said Matsui.
Locally, the budget allocates over $75 million to Sacramento's flood projects, $3 million for RT's South Line Phase II light rail extension, and $1.5 million to West Sacramento for the Port's Deep Water Ship Channel Dredging.
Finally, the President included in his budget a proposal for entitlement reform that includes chained CPI. Chaining CPI would reduce Social Security expenditures by switching the beneficiary payments to a slower measure of inflation.
"I am very concerned about the President's proposal to reform Social Security by implementing chained CPI. Those who have worked hard and played by the rules deserve a safe and dignified retirement. I will be watching this issue closely as we move forward," said Matsui.
"The budget outline released by the President today is not perfect, but it calls for critical investments that are necessary to create jobs, strengthen our economy and move our country forward."