In light of the conversations recently on this site, I thought I might provide a brief history of our Congressional funding and an update on our current efforts.
1. Trust Fund Investments: In response to Ben’s good question: The Truman Foundation has explored with Congress the possibility of allowing our trust fund to be invested in the private equity markets rather than exclusively through the Treasury but we were turned down. There is no precedent for a federal government agency to invest a trust fund in anything but Treasury securities.
2. A little history: The Truman Foundation received a total of $30 million in Congressional appropriations for the trust fund in 1975-76. We received no appropriations thereafter because it was assumed that the interest from the trust fund would be enough to keep up with anticipated increases in college tuition. College tuition increased dramatically, however, and the interest from the trust fund fell significantly behind. In FY 2009, the Foundation was able to secure a $500,000 appropriation — the first appropriation from Congress since 1976. In FY 2010, the Foundation received a $660,000 appropriation from Congress. For FY 2011, the Foundation requested a $1 million appropriation. This was included in the Senate and House Omnibus for FY 2011 but that bill was not enacted last December during the lame duck session of Congress. A temporary Continuing Resolution (CR) was adopted to keep the government running through March 4, 2011. Most agencies were funded at the previous year’s appropriation level. This was true for the Truman Foundation.
3. Update on Congressional appropriations efforts for the current fiscal year: The House CR for FY 2011 (introduced last week) contains $660,000 for the Truman Foundation. This is the same amount that was contained in the FY 2010 appropriations bill. Most agencies were cut from their previous year’s appropriation, so we were fortunate to maintain our funding at the previous year’s level. However, it is less than what we requested for FY 2011. The Senate FY 2011 Omnibus had contained $1 million for the Truman Foundation, which is what we requested. We do not know what the Senate will do in response to the House CR for 2011.
4. Update on Congressional appropriations efforts for FY 2012: The President’s budget for FY 2012 (released last week) contained $-0- for the Truman Foundation’s annual appropriation. Because Congress appropriated $660,000 last year (FY 2010), the fact that the President’s budget contains $-0- for FY 2012 means the OMB can claim a savings. Because OMB does not count in increments less than $1 million, OMB claims a $1 million savings by recommending Congress appropriate $-0- to the Foundation.
5. Congressional support: We continue to work with members of the House and Senate who have historically been very supportive of our efforts and hope that we can continue to receive appropriations in the future. We are particularly grateful for the support of the members of our Board of Trustees who serve in Congress: Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) and Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO). We currently have two vacancies on our Board for Members of Congress: a Republican Senator and a Democratic House Member. In the recent past, Senators Kit Bond (R-MO) and Max Baucus (D-MT) as well as Representative Ike Skelton (D-MO) served in these positions and each was very supportive of our efforts. We also are very grateful to Rep. JoAnn Emerson (R-MO) who now serves as the Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, the subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Truman Foundation. It is through her efforts that the Foundation’s appropriation in the CR was not cut from the previous year’s level. Senator Richard Durbin, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, has for several years included the Truman Foundation’s full appropriations request in his bill. We appreciate all his efforts on our behalf. Finally, Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) has been a great help to the Foundation.
Many of you have generously offered your help. In my opinion, the most effective way to help would be to send a brief general expression of thanks to these Members of Congress and/or to the Members of the House and Senate from your state and Congressional district.
I look forward to seeing you all at the Truman Scholar National Conference in D.C. this summer!
Frederick G. Slabach (MS ’77)
Treasurer, Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation
President, Texas Wesleyan University, Fort Worth, TX