Durbin: President Obama's Budget Focused on Job Creation and Reducing Federal Deficit

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said the budget President Obama delivered to Congress today will help put millions of Americans back to work, build a new foundation for long-term prosperity and continue restoring fiscal responsibility.
“Each year, the President has a chance to clearly articulate his vision and his priorities through his budget. Today’s budget is a vision for the future that is focused on creating jobs and rebuilding our economy,” said Durbin.  “This budget includes tax credits and other incentives designed to encourage new hires, it adds dramatically to education so that our kids will be prepared to succeed in college and compete in the global economy and it includes more than a billion dollars for jobs related to energy efficiency.”
The President’s 2011 Budget makes critical investments in the key areas that will help to reverse the decline in economic security that American families have experienced over the past decade with investments in job creation, education, clean energy and infrastructure.
It also reflects the Obama Administration’s commitment to tighten the government’s belt to reduce deficits in the years ahead. In this budget, the President proposes to save $250 billion by freezing all non-security related discretionary spending for three years. The freeze would exempt the budgets of the Defense Department, Homeland Security Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Job Creation

The President’s budget proposes several smart, targeted initiatives that would help encourage job creation this year.  It proposes to invest $100 billion in programs to help small businesses access the credit they need to expand and hire; incentives to encourage energy efficiency renovations that would put contractors to work on homes and manufacturing plants; and infrastructure projects that would employ construction firms to make our roads, trains, and airports more efficient.
ILLINOIS IMPACT:  There are over 250,000 small employers and over 850,000 sole proprietors in Illinois, most of which would benefit from easier access to credit to finance expansion as the economy begins to grow again.  Most of the over 3.3 million homes in Illinois could benefit from incentives to make those homes more energy efficient.  There are 310 transportation projects in Illinois worth $1.3 billion that are ready to go if funding were available to put people to work.
The budget encourages the creation of as many as one million new jobs in small businesses throughout the country this year through the proposal of a Small Business Jobs and Wages Tax Cut.
ILLINOIS IMPACT:  The Small Business Jobs and Wages Tax Cut could create over 43,000 jobs in Illinois.
The budget includes $237 million to purchase, activate, and operate the “supermax” state prison in Thomson, Illinois. There is a critical need for a facility to address federal prison overcrowding problems nationwide and a particularly urgent need for supermax-type bed space.  There are more than 209,000 inmates in the custody of the federal Bureau of Prisons, up sharply from 202,000 last year.
ILLINOIS IMPACT: The purchase, activation and operation of Thomson Correctional Center could generate more than 3,000 jobs and inject more than $1 billion into the regional economy.


The President’s budget expands access to a quality education through the largest funding increase ever requested for programs authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act – a $3 billion increase to $28 billion, plus up to an additional $1 billion if the law is reauthorized by Congress.
ILLINOIS IMPACT:  Less than a quarter of Illinois students graduate high school ready for college level work.  The President’s budget will help prepare all students for college by investing $2.1 billion in Illinois schools, students, and teachers.
The budget invests in comprehensive education reform through a $1.35 billion increase to expand the President’s Race to the Top competition.
ILLINOIS IMPACT:  Illinois was one of 41 states to submit an application for the first round of the Race to the Top competition.  If Illinois’s application is successful, the state will receive between $200 million and $400 million to implement state-wide education reforms.
The budget makes college more affordable by raising the maximum Pell Grant to $5,710 and indexing the grant amount to inflation.
ILLINOIS IMPACT:  The President’s budget will make $1.4 billion available to Pell Grant recipients in Illinois.  This will help more than 361,000 students in the state afford college.
The budget would lessen the burden of student loan payments on recent graduates by strengthening income-based repayment so that overburdened borrowers will pay only 10% of their discretionary income in repayments and have their remaining debt forgiven after 20 years.
ILLINOIS IMPACT:  College students in Illinois graduate with an average of over $20,000 in student loan debt.   The President's budget expands federal student aid and reforms the student loan system so that it works for students, not lenders.
The budget would expand child care and early education funding for working parents by adding $1.6 billion to the Child Care Development Fund and $1 billion to Head Start and Early Head Start
ILLINOIS IMPACT:  The President’s investment in child care would mean $268.7 million in child care assistance for Illinois families.  And the investment in Head Start would help place children in high-quality early childhood programs so that they enter school ready to learn.

Energy, Science and the Environment

The President’s budget would strengthen the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by adding $300 million for the interagency effort which targets federal funding at the most pressing environmental concerns in the Great Lakes.  Last year the Obama Administration created the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Congress appropriated $475 million for its efforts.
ILLINOIS IMPACT: The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative is an interagency effort that targets federal funding at the most pressing environmental concerns in the Great Lakes including efforts to control the spread of Asian Carp.  In December, $13 million was directed to fund emergency efforts to control Asian Carp.  Next week, the Administration will be announcing its comprehensive Asian Carp plan that will address short and long term efforts by the Federal Government.
The budget builds on last year’s historic investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy and science with nearly a 7% increase in overall funding for the Department of Energy and an 8% increase for the National Science Foundation.
ILLINOIS IMPACT: Both of Illinois’ Federal labs, Argonne and Fermilab, are slated for increased funding.  Argonne’s overall budget is increased to $532 million and Fermilab’s overall budget is increased to $420 million.  The state of Illinois is proposed to receive over $1.3 billion in energy spending from the Department of Energy.  This is nearly a 6% increase from 2010 levels.

Heath Care

The President’s budget offers more security for our communities by investing $2.5 billion for health centers to provide affordable high quality primary and preventive care to underserved populations, including the uninsured. This will allow health centers in Illinois to continue to provide care to the additional patients they served under the Recovery Act and support new health center sites.
ILLINOIS IMPACT: Since 2000, Illinois community health centers have more than doubled the number of patients—from over 400,000 to over 1 million today—a 150% increase.  Last year alone, Illinois health centers provided direct health care services to over 1.1 million people.
The budget invests in the future of healthcare by providing $330 million as part of the health workforce initiative to address the shortage of health care providers in underserved areas.   The Health Workforce Initiative includes $169 million in the National Health Service Corps and additional monies for the Nurse Education Loan Repayment and Scholarship Program, the Nurse Faculty Loan Program, and Dental Workforce Development Grants.
ILLINOIS IMPACT: In Illinois, 97 of the 102 counties have been designated full or partial health professional shortage areas. As the primary care shortage worsens, Illinoisans will benefit from the President’s investment in targeting funding to the neediest areas.  Almost 2.2 million Illinoisans live in federally designated health professional shortage areas and are at great risk for being unable to establish a medical home because of a shortage of primary care doctors where they live. That’s 1 out of almost every 5 of Illinois’ citizens.
The budget offers stability for states and families by including $25.5 billion in additional Federal Medicaid assistance to help states maintain their Medicaid programs and ensure access to health care for millions of low-income Americans.

ILLINOIS IMPACT: Over 2.4 million Illinoisans depend on the Medicaid program including over 1 million children. The President’s budget will allow a total of almost $8 billion to help Illinois protect health care coverage for vulnerable families with dependent children as well as aged, blind, or disabled individuals


The President’s budget expands access to high-quality health care for all of our nation's veterans.  The President's budget provides record funding to the Department of Veterans Affairs, building on historic funding increases with a 20 percent total increase since 2009.  $57 billion is requested for FY2011.  $50.6 billion is provided in advance appropriations for the VA medical care program in 2012, so that veteran care is not hindered by budget delays.  The President's budget continues enrollment of more than 500,000 moderate-income veterans into the VA health care system by 2013.
ILLINOIS IMPACT:  In 2008, Illinois' five VA medical centers and 22 outpatient clinics saw over 200,000 patients from Illinois and surrounding states.  Illinois veterans will benefit from an increase in medical services funding of approximately $4 billion.  The budget supports the VA and Defense Department joint implementation of the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record, which will rely heavily on the lessons learned from the soon to be complete merger of North Chicago VA Medical Center and Naval Health Clinic Great Lakes into the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center.  Illinois veterans affected by Traumatic Brain Injury and Post-Traumatic Stress disorder will get the care they need through a $5.2 billion investment in specialized care.
The budget improves veteran access to the disability, education, and other benefits they have earned as a result of service to our nation.
ILLINOIS IMPACT:  The approximately 841,500 Illinois veterans stand to benefit from a variety of benefits initiatives.  In 2008, over 77,000 Illinois veterans received VA compensation or pension benefits.  In addition, more than 26,000 took advantage of VA sponsored education, home loan, or vocational rehabilitation programs.  The President's budget allows the VA to hire thousands of new personnel to attack the current claims backlog, and puts $200 million into automated processing.  According to a 2006 VA report, 2,197 Illinois veterans go homeless every night, with only 136 VA-funded beds available.  The budget puts $799 million toward the administration's commitment to dramatically reduce veteran homelessness.


The President’s budget helps promote nationally significant transportation infrastructure investments by creating the National Infrastructure Innovation and Finance Fund.  The budget requests $4 billion in grants and loans for transportation projects that provide a significant economic benefit to the nation or a region. 
ILLINOIS IMPACT: Last year’s Recovery Act included $1.5 billion in competitive Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants for nationally significant transportation projects that will provide long-term economic benefits.  Last year, Illinois submitted 49 applications totaling more than $2.3 billion to DOT for this program.  This new program proposed in the budget is similar to the TIGER program but will add innovative financing assistance in addition to grants for these projects.
The budget makes a significant investment in our nation’s rail infrastructure by including $1.052 billion for Amtrak’s capital costs and $563 million for operating assistance – an increase of $50 million.
ILLINOIS IMPACT: There are 1,487 Amtrak employees in Illinois, earning $98 million in wages.  Amtrak’s routes from Chicago to St. Louis, Milwaukee, Carbondale, and Quincy connect 35 Illinois cities. From Chicago you can visit the over 500 cities Amtrak serves.  This funding could also benefit new routes from Chicago to Rockford and the Quad Cities.
The budget continues the Obama Administration’s historic federal commitment to high speed rail.  $1 billion for 2011 is proposed for the high speed rail State grant program.  This funding comes on top of the $8 billion included in the recovery Act and the $2.5 billion included in the 2010 Omnibus Appropriations bill.    This program will be directed by the states and is intended to create several high-speed rail corridors across the country linking regional population centers.
ILLINOIS IMPACT:  Last week, the Obama Administration awarded $8 billion in grants from the Recovery Act.  Illinois received $1.23 billion for work along the Chicago to St. Louis route. This grant will upgrade 2/3rd of the current track so it can handle 110 mph trains; shave up to an hour off the current trip time of 5.5 or more hours; improve on-time-performance to over 80%; upgrade stations along the corridor; and support 6,000 construction jobs.  This funding could also benefit new routes from Chicago to Rockford and the Quad Cities.

Agriculture and Nutrition

The President’s budget responds to the needs of low-income Americans by continuing to support the nutrition provisions incorporated in the Recovery Act, including enhanced benefits for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as food stamps) averaging about $20 per person per month.

ILLINOIS IMPACT: In Illinois, the SNAP program helps over 1.5 million individuals (12.3% of the population) afford groceries.  This is a 41% increase in participation over 5 years ago, a sign that this help is desperately needed now.  In addition, food stamps have a direct impact on the state economy—USDA research has found that $1 in food stamps generates $1.84 in total economic activity.
The budget strengthens nutrition assistance and promotes healthy eating by investing $8.1 billion in discretionary nutrition programs, which is a $400 million increase over the FY10 level.  This funding supports programs such WIC and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program which provide healthy food to low-income pregnant women, new mothers, and their infants; and supports our nation’s food banks and soup kitchens through The Emergency Food Assistance Program.
ILLINOIS IMPACT: In Illinois, nearly 295,000 women and children participate in WIC, which provides low-income at-risk women and children with vouchers for nutritious supplemental food packages, nutrition education, and health and immunization referrals.


The President’s budget helps take care of our men and women in uniform.  It provides a 1.4 percent basic pay raise for all servicemembers to keep their pay increases consistent with pay increases in the private sector.  The budget also provides an average housing increase of 4.2 percent for servicemembers and their families.  It increases military family support programs more than 3 percent above 2010 levels, to $8.8 billion, including $1.3 billion for child care services at over 800 child development centers in the U.S. and overseas.  It also includes $1.9 billion for expanded counseling and assistance services to help families meet the challenges of repeated deployments and family separations.
ILLINOIS IMPACT:  About 42,000 active duty and National Guard and Reserve members in Illinois will benefit from these increases.  In 2008, servicemembers, Department of Defense civilian employees, and military retirees from Illinois received $2.49 billion in pay.   The budget will help fund the child development centers at Scott Air Force Base and the Rock Island Arsenal.
The budget provides quality health care for servicemembers, their families, and military retirees.  It provides $30.9 billion overall for health care for the 9.5 million servicemembers, military family members, and military retirees who receive health care through the military’s TRICARE program.  This amount includes $669 million to provide care for traumatic brain injury and psychological health and another $250 million for continued research in these areas.
ILLINOIS IMPACT: About 157,000 Illinois residents receive their health care through the Department of Defense’s TRICARE program.