On Safety

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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.

The opinions expressed in "On Safety" do not necessarily reflect those of the National Safety Council or affiliated local Chapters.

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