On March 4, 2014, the Administration released its fiscal year (FY) 2015 budget request for all federal agencies, to include the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The request included funding recommendations for all VA programs as well as a revised estimate for needed funding for veterans’ health care programs for FY 2015 and advance appropriations recommendations for veterans’ health care programs for FY 2016.
The Administration’s overall discretionary budget request for FY 2015 is $68.2 billion (including $3.1 billion for medical care collections). This recommendation is approximately $4.8 billion less than the overall recommendation from The Independent Budget (IB) for FY 2015—co-authored by AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans), and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
For medical care, the Administration recommends revised estimate of $59.1 billion for FY 2015, approximately $2.0 billion less than the IB recommendation of $61.1 billion. Additionally, the Administration recommends $62.0 billion for advance appropriations for VA health care for FY 2016, approximately $500 million less than the recommendation of the IB ($62.5 billion). While we believe the advance appropriations estimate for FY 2016 is reasonably good, we continue to have serious concerns about the inadequacy of the appropriated levels for FY 2015.
The greatest concern that the IB co-authors expressed with regards to the Administration’s request is the severe underfunding of Major and Minor Construction as well as non-recurring maintenance (NRM). The Administration proposes $562 million for Major Construction, nearly $2.2 billion less than the IB recommendation. Similarly, the Administration recommends a cut in Minor Construction to $495 million, approximately $336 million less than the IB. While we appreciate the modest increases proposed for health care services, we have concerns that the serious lack of commitment to infrastructure funding to support the system will undermine the VA’s ability to deliver those services. To read more about the recommendations of The Independent Budget, go to www.independentbudget.org.
Subsequent to the release of the Administration’s budget request, the House and Senate Committees on Veterans’ Affairs conducted hearings to review the detailed budget request submitted by the Administration. PVA submitted comments for the record on the VA’s budget proposal that reflects the concerns listed above. In order to read Paralyzed Veterans' full written statement submitted for the record on the FY 2015 VA budget, visit this link.
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