Sunday, February 01, 2004

OSHA Budget Passed

Training Grant Money Saved

Included in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill for FY 2004 which the Senate passed last month was the Labor- HHS Appropriations bill which included funding for OSHA, MSHA and NIOSH. As you now, the bill unfortunately did not include a measure blocking the DOL overtime regulation (despite votes to that effect in the House and in the Senate) which will result in reductions of overtime pay for 8 million workers.

OSHA received a modest increase, allowing it to maintain current program activities. FY 2004 funding for OSHA will be $460.7 million, compared to $450.3 million in FY 2003. According to Occupational Hazards, compliance assistance was the biggest winner, gaining, as it did last year, the largest percentage increase in funding. The 10 percent increase, or $6 million, was the largest increase in total dollars among OSHA programs as well. Spending on enforcement programs will rise $4 million to $167 million, while the safety and health standards budget remains constant at $16 million.

The best news is that the bill maintained OSHA training grant funding ($11.1 million) and included legislative language mandating that OSHA fund the Institutional Competency Building Grants for another year at current levels. This is a major victory as the Bush administration has attempted to cut short the 5-year grant program initiated during the Clinton administration. Despite all odds we've been able to maintain funding for these programs for the full five year term and maintain the entire program at $11 million despite the Administration's attempt to cut the program down to $4 million and replace it with a program that would emphasize web sites and CD's instead of direct worker training.

The bill sets funding for MSHA at $270.8 million, compared to $272.9 million in FY 2003. (However, the FY 03 appropriation included a onetime appropropriation of $9.9 million for mine mapping).

For NIOSH, the bill provides a total of $278.9 million (including $41.9 million for NORA), compared to $273.4 million for FY 2003.