Washington – An analysis of the President Barack Obama’s federal fiscal year 2015 budget proposal shows that the president’s budget protects critical investments in children while adhering to congressionally-mandated overall “discretionary” spending levels.

“President Obama has again delivered a budget that protects critical investments in children,” said First Focus president Bruce Lesley.

Compared to federal fiscal year 2014, the President’s budget invests an additional $2.2 billion (2.8 percent) in discretionary spending for children. The First Focus analysis highlights specific investments including:

  • $1.6 billion (a 14 percent increase) in early childhood care and education;
  • $650 million (a 1.7 percent increase) in K-12 education;
  • $240 million (a 2.1 percent increase) in housing and assistance for the homeless; and
  • $110 million (a 1.6 percent increase) in child nutrition

In addition to proposed funding levels, the president’s budget outlines the administration’s policy priorities. The First Focus analysis finds that the budget advances several policy priorities important to children’s health, economic security, and education. Specifically, the president’s budget:

  • Reiterates the administration’s commitment to the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP);
  • Makes permanent “Express-Lane Eligibility” option to reduce unnecessary red tape for children enrolling in CHIP or Medicaid;
  • Establishes a new Medicaid demonstration project that encourages states to curb the over-prescription of psychotropic medications and offer evidence-based psychosocial interventions to children and youth in foster care;
  • Makes permanent improvements in the Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, and American Opportunity Tax Credit enacted through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and extended by the 2012 “fiscal cliff” budget agreement;
  • Improves the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to make child care more affordable for families with young children; and
  • Renews the president’s call for a federal-state partnership aimed at improving the affordability and quality of pre-Kindergarten

The analysis also notes that congressionally-mandated budget caps constrain the administration’s proposed investments in children. The upcoming congressional budget resolution debate, expected to begin in earnest this month, is an opportunity for Congress to revise those budget allocations.

“You can’t get around the math. Unless Congress acts to change the status quo, children will be squeezed harder and harder,” said Lesley.