Budgetary semantics

January 16, 2014

A recent bipartisan appropriations bill would give OSHA’s budget a $17 million boost. Or is it an $11 million cut? It depends on how you look at it.

OSHA’s fiscal year 2013 budget originally was set at $563.7 million. However, due to Congress’s inability to reach a budget agreement, across-the-board automatic spending cuts – known as sequestration – kicked in, slashing OSHA’s budget to $535.3 million for last year.

So depending on your perspective, the agency’s proposed FY 2014 budget of $552.3 million is either a funding boost over 2013 levels, or a reduction.

Rather than debating semantics, I think it’s important to look at this from a historical perspective. If the appropriations bill is signed into law, OSHA’s funding level for this year would be the lowest level Congress has appropriated since 2009, when the agency received $513 million (it received $558.6 million in 2010).

When an agency’s funding levels are moving backward instead of forward, it’s hard to imagine how the agency can accomplish its goals.

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