President’s Budget for 2021 to Be Released Next Week

President Trump’s fiscal 2021 budget request will be released on Monday, February 10.

The budget is not just about the President’s proposals for fiscal 2021 and beyond – the budget will also contain a wealth of useful data about what actually happened during the now-closed fiscal year 2019 and the latest, best estimate of what is in the process of happening during the ongoing fiscal year 2020.

Prior to fiscal year 2010, every federal budget requested bore the same anodyne title: “Budget of the U.S. Government.” That changed with Barack Obama’s first message, which bore the title “A New Era of Responsibility: Renewing America’s Promise” before his Administration reverted back to the old title for all of his subsequent budgets. But the Trump Administration has named them all.

Trump’s initial budget message in March 2017 was entitled “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” followed up by a revised and more complete version in May 2017 called “A New Foundation for American Greatness.” The FY 2019 budget was “Efficient, Effective, Accountable: An American Budget” and the FY 2020 iteration was “A Budget for a Better America: Promises Kept. Taxpayers First.”

Now, thanks to a tweet from GPO showing a photo of hard copies rolling off the assembly line, we know that the FY 2021 budget is entitled “A Budget for America’s Future.”

(Ed. Note: The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has a massively useful online collection of every federal budget going back to the first one, in FY 1923.)

The rollout will happen in stages:

The Office of Management and Budget (and the Government Publishing Office) will release the OMB-produced materials in the morning on their websites – (the OMB website is here):

  • The Budget Message itself (usually about 100 pages of overview, with a couple of pages of summary for each Cabinet agency, and a dozen or so high-level government-wide summary tables.
  • The Appendix (1,200 pages or so containing every word of proposed appropriations language and details for every budget spending account.
  • The Analytical Perspectives volume of odds and ends (including explanation of any tax changes or non-appropriated spending proposals. (The online version of AP contains some extra tables, including the massively useful government-wide tables for Budget Authority and Outlays by Function, Category, and Program, and the same information organized as Federal Budget by Agency and Account.)
  • A volume of Historical Tables dating back, in some instances, to 1789, but more often to either 1934 (for taxes and debt), 1962 (for outlays), or 1976 (for budget authority).
  • The Federal Credit Supplement with the latest performance (and projected future performance) of credit programs like TIFIA and RRIF.

But that’s only the beginning. Much more detailed information is submitted by departments and agencies to Congress, but that material has to be hand-delivered in hard copy form to the appropriate committees before it can be posted online, which takes time. These include the Congressional budget justifications (hundreds of pages for each modal administration within USDOT, and a big 3,000-page document for Homeland Security, for example).

Each agency will also produce a less-than-100-page summary document of its budget request (the USDOT one used to be called Budget-in-Brief and is now called Highlights).

Expect this all late Monday afternoon or so.

In addition, the anxiously-awaited New Starts Annual Report will be released on budget day as well. This report from the Federal Transit Administration not only gives the Administration’s proposed allocation of FY 2021 funding for Capital Investment Grant projects, it is also accompanied by updated summary sheets of every proposed CIG project in the development “pipeline” with updated project status and updated ratings by FTA staff. (So we will get to see if, and why, the two Gateway projects in NY-NJ (the Hudson River Tunnel and the Portal North Bridge) get low ratings once again.

Your intrepid ETW budget analyst will be on the road on Monday but will be sending out updates remotely.

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