On February 1, President Obama released his fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget proposal which seeks to address both unemployment and rising deficits and includes many items of interest to landscape architects, including tax incentives for small businesses, investments in green infrastructure for water management, assistance for comprehensive community planning, and a strengthened Land and Water Conservation Fund program.
Specifically, the proposal includes a number of provisions to assist small businesses including assisting the Small Business Administration (SBA) with 7(a) loan guarantees that will help small businesses operate and increase the maximum 7(a) loan size from $2 million to $5 million. The President is also proposing an additional year of allowing companies – both large and small - to immediately deduct 50 percent of their qualifying investments. The budget also proposes a one year extension of allowing small businesses to immediately write off up to $250,000 of qualified investments in 2008 and 2009. This tax incentive was originally enacted under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) in early 2009. The budget also recommends completely eliminating the capital gains tax on small business stock. With jobs being at the forefront of the agenda for both the Administration and Congress, ASLA members can anticipate that Congress will act on many of these small business incentives as part of a jobs bill early in 2010.
In addition to the jobs piece, the president is proposing investment in green infrastructure technologies. In particular, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget includes funding for the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs) for states to provide low-interest loans to communities to finance wastewater and drinking water infrastructure and encourage and support green infrastructure projects. The proposal also seeks to expand green infrastructure research to assess, develop and compile tools and models that will be used to help the advancement and deployment of green infrastructure projects to address water management issues.
The Department of the Interior (DOI) budget reflects the commitment of President Obama and Secretary Ken Salazar to the Treasured Landscapes Initiative which seeks to protect some of our nation’s most precious natural resources. Also included in the budget are significant investments in the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for DOI and USDA to acquire new lands for national parks, forests and refuges, protect endangered species habitat, and promote outdoor recreation.
As part of the President’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) budget includes opportunities for comprehensive regional and community planning efforts that integrate transportation and housing investments that result in more regional and local sustainable development patterns, reduce greenhouse gases, and increase more transit accessible housing choices for residents.
Finally, the President’s Department of Education budget provides assistance to encourage states to implement Environmental Literacy Plans for K-12 curriculums, which will provide our young people with quality environmental education.
As Congress begins to review the President’s budget proposal, the ASLA Government Affairs team will continue to work to ensure that provisions that support the landscape architecture profession are implemented into law.