The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

April 10, 2013

Ag, education cuts, energy boosted: Agency by agency guide to Obama's 2014 budget

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

It also earmarks $8.3 billion for global health initiatives, including $6 billion for AIDS programs, $1.1 billion for food security and $481 million for efforts to combat climate change. In addition, the budget sets aside $4.1 billion for humanitarian assistance around the world.

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Agency: Transportation

Total Spending: $127 billon

Percentage Change from 2013: 50.2 percent increase

Discretionary Spending: $16.3 billion

Mandatory Spending: $110.8 billion

Highlights:

Obama's proposed transportation budget includes a significant funding increase — $50 billion — to pay for improving the nation's roads, bridges, transit systems, border crossings, railways and runways. It's similar to proposals that he has called for before, and something that Congress has not been willing to provide.

Forty billion dollars would be used for "Fix-it-First" investments under a program Obama highlighted in his State of the Union address. The program, Obama said, would not only put people to work but it would support critical infrastructure projects — such as urgent repairs to roads and fixing nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. The other $10 billion would help spur state and local innovation in infrastructure development.

Transportation Deputy Secretary John Porcari said at a briefing Wednesday that the $50 billion program would be paid for with savings offsets elsewhere but would not elaborate.

As for the rest of the department's budget, the president proposed a five-year, $40 billion rail reauthorization program. It would upgrade existing intercity passenger rail services, develop new high speed rail corridors, and aim to strengthen the overall competitiveness of the freight rail system.

The budget proposal would also provide money to modernize the nation's aviation system by boosting safety and capacity, with $1 billion for the Next Generation Air Transport System.

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Agency: Veterans Affairs

Total Spending: $149.5 billion

Percentage Change from 2013: 10

Discretionary Spending: $63.5 billion

Mandatory Spending: $86 billion

Highlights: The president is proposing to increase spending by nearly $300 million for that part of the VA responsible for handling disability claims, an increase of more than 13 percent. More veterans are seeking compensation for wounds and illness incurred or aggravated while on active duty. The VA is struggling to keep up and the number of claims pending long than 125 days has soared over the past four years.

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