Under the President’s leadership, we have turned our economy around and created 14 million jobs. Our unemployment rate is below five percent for the first time in almost eight years. Nearly 18 million people have gained health coverage as the Affordable Care Act has taken effect. And we have dramatically cut our deficits by almost three-quarters and set our Nation on a more sustainable fiscal path.
Yet while it is important to take stock of our progress, this Budget is not about looking back at the road we have traveled. It is about looking forward and making sure our economy works for everybody, not just those at the top. It is about choosing investments that not only make us stronger today, but also reflect the kind of country we aspire to be – the kind of country we want to pass on to our children and grandchildren.
The Budget makes critical investments in our domestic and national security priorities while adhering to the bipartisan budget agreement signed into law last fall, and it lifts sequestration in future years so that we continue to invest in our economic future and our national security. It also drives down deficits and maintains our fiscal progress through smart savings from health care, immigration, and tax reforms.
The Budget shows that the President and the Administration remain focused on meeting our greatest challenges -- including accelerating the pace of innovation to tackle climate change and finding new treatments for devastating diseases; giving everyone a fair shot at opportunity and economic security; and advancing our national security and global leadership -- not only for the year ahead, but for decades to come.
The Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works program (Corps) develops, manages, protects, and restores water resources to promote economic growth, increase public safety, and improve the aquatic environment. The Civil Works program focuses primarily on the construction, operation, and maintenance of water resources projects; studies of potential new projects; and its regulatory program. The Corps also works with other Federal agencies to help States and communities respond to and recover from floods and other natural disasters. To support this work, the Budget provides $4.6 billion, and focuses resources on the highest priority work within the agency’s three main missions: flood and storm damage reduction; commercial navigation; and aquatic ecosystem restoration.
The President’s FY 2017 Budget provides $4.6 billion in discretionary funding for the Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works program. This includes:
- Emphasizing investments in construction projects that will yield high economic and environmental returns or address significant risks to public safety.
- Investing in restoring significant aquatic ecosystems.
- Supporting maintenance and related activities at the Nation’s most heavily used coastal ports and inland waterways.
- Improvements to how the Federal government finances investments in support of navigation on the inland waterways.
- Supports state and local community efforts to reduce their flood risk.
- Improvements to the management, oversight, and performance of ongoing programs to efficiently meet water resource needs.
Invests in Water Resources to Support Economic Growth and Protect the Environment
Emphasizes Investments in Construction Projects with High Economic and Environmental Returns While Addressing Public Safety. The Budget provides $1.2 billion for construction projects with an emphasis on projects that provide high economic and environmental returns to the Nation or address a significant risk to public safety. In addition, the Budget emphasizes funding for dam safety and related work, and projects that will complete construction with funds provided in 2017.
Restores High Priority Aquatic Ecosystems. The Budget provides funding to restore significant aquatic ecosystems based on sound science and adaptive management. Funds are provided for work on priority aquatic ecosystems, including the California Bay-Delta, Chesapeake Bay, the Everglades, the Great Lakes, and the Gulf Coast. Funds are also provided for other aquatic ecosystem restoration efforts, such as endangered species recovery in the Columbia and Missouri Rivers and improving environmental outcomes in the Upper Mississippi River.
Invests in Existing Water Resources Infrastructure. The Budget provides $2.9 billion for the operation and maintenance of existing infrastructure and improving its reliability. The Budget prioritizes the operation and maintenance of key infrastructure, including navigation channels that serve the Nation’s largest coastal ports and the inland waterways with the most commercial use, such as the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers and the Illinois Waterway.
Improves Funding and Management
Reforms Inland Waterways Funding. The Administration has proposed to reform the laws governing the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, including an annual per vessel fee to sufficiently increase the amount paid by commercial navigation users to meet their share of the costs of activities financed from this fund. The current excise tax on diesel fuel used in inland waterways commerce, which was recently increased to 29 cents per gallon, will not produce the revenue needed to cover these costs. The Budget also proposes paying for 25 percent of ongoing maintenance work for these waterways from the Trust Fund, making the costs of using the waterways more comparable to other means of transportation.
Supports State and Local Community Efforts to Reduce their Flood Risk. The Budget invests in programs that provide technical and planning assistance to help States and local communities develop and implement locally based, non-structural approaches to reduce their flood risk, including for example, the Planning Assistance to States, Floodplain Management Services, and National Flood Risk Management programs. The Budget also invests in the Corps Silver Jackets program, which brings together state, Federal, and sometimes tribal and local agencies to learn from one another and apply their knowledge to reduce the damage from flooding and other natural disasters for local communities, and enhance their response and recovery efforts when such events do occur.
Encourages Non-Federal Leadership in Water Resources. Building and maintaining water resources infrastructure is a shared responsibility involving Federal, State, and local agencies, as well as private beneficiaries. The Budget supports efforts to encourage States and communities to assume responsibility for the development, management, protection, and restoration of water resources by including funding for disposition studies, which evaluate options for transferring responsibility to state or local agencies.
Increases Organizational Efficiency. The Administration continues to work to improve the responsiveness, accountability, and operational oversight of the Civil Works program to best meet current and future water resources challenges. For example, in an effort to ensure only the best studies move forward, the Corps has established Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Risk Informed, and Timely, otherwise known as SMART, planning guidelines that will ensure key factors such as scope, cost, and scheduling are fully documented and vetted prior to the start of new feasibility studies. In addition, the Corps has implemented Cost Control Boards for construction projects in an effort to reduce cost overruns, achieve efficiencies, and ensure projects remain within original cost estimates, thereby ensuring the best use of taxpayer