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President Obama’s 2013 Federal Budget Proposal- How Does Preservation Fare?

February 24, 2012

This guest blog was written by PNJ intern Lauren Giannullo. Lauren is a graduate student at Rutgers University’s Bloustein School of Public Policy. She is studying for a master’s in City and Regional Planning with a certificate in Historic Preservation. 

In preparation for Federal Preservation Lobby Day 2012, Preservation Action is keeping us up-to-date on how preservation is faring in FY 2013 federal budget discussions. President Obama released his 2013 budget proposal last week, and as PA relays, this proposal is just the beginning of the lengthy process that will determine federal-level preservation funding during the coming year. From Preservation Action:

The President’s proposal for preservation spending in FY 2013:

2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 FY 2012 President’s Request FY 2013 President’s Request
SHPOs $39.3 $42.5 $46.5 $46.4 $47 $50 $46.9
THPOs $6.4 $7 $8 $7.9 $9 $11 $8.9
SAT $25 $20 $25 0 0 0 0
PA $7.5 0 $4.6 0 0 0 0
ACHP $5.3 $5.4 $5.9 $5.9 $6.1 $6.1 $5.7
Heritage Areas $15 $16 $18 $17.8 $17.4 $8.9 $9.3


Funding for the Historic Preservation Fund would remain level with the FY12 enacted amount of $55.9 million. With last year’s elimination of Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America, State Historic Preservation offices, Certified Local Governments, Tribal Historic Preservation Offices, and Tribal Heritage Grants are the only programs funded out of the HPF. Preservation advocates continues to lobby Congress for full funding for the HPF as well as a competitive bricks and mortar grant program to be funded from the HPF and administered by the States (want to help? Join us at Federal Preservation Lobby Day,  coming up March 8!).

The President has once again proposed cutting National Heritage Area (NHA) funding in half to $9.3 million, once again citing a lack of criteria and programmatic language for NHAs. To address this issue, the National Alliance of Heritage Areas has been working on the introduction of the Heritage Area Act of 2012, currently seeking original sponsors to join Charles Dent (R-PA), and Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY). A Dear Colleague letter is available for circulation to your Representatives.

Under the President’s budget, many of the Federal Highway Programs would be consolidated into five broad categories. Transportation Enhancements, Scenic Byways, and Historic Covered Bridge Preservation would likely fall in to the new “Livability” category and compete with several other programs for $4 billion in funds in 2013 and $27 billion for the following six years. This program is very similar to the one proposed in the President’s 2012 budget. This approach, however, does not mirror any of the the new transportation law proposals being considered in the House or Senate.

Of particular note in the National Park Service budget is a $24 million cut from their construction budget. With a $3 billion backlog in deferred maintenance on more than 27,000 National Register listed sites, this is cause for great concern.

As indicated in the chart above, overall preservation funding requests for 2013 from the President are down slightly from 2012 request levels.  That said, the requests largely mirror FY 2012 spending levels,  save for the proposed drastic reduction in NHA funding.

As the annual Federal Preservation Lobby Day event approaches, issues around federal preservation funding take on a heightened level of immediate importance.  Lobby Day provides a chance for preservation advocates to meet with their federal representatives and make a case for preservation funding support – it’s an incredible opportunity to be a voice for the preservation community.  Please join us on Capitol Hill on Thursday, March 8thContact Preservation NJ if you’d like to get involved in this and other efforts to garner support for federal preservation funding.

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