Federal Budget 101

Why Should you Care About the Federal Budget

Budget Pie

The $3.9 trillion the government is planning to spend in fiscal year 2015 is your tax dollars. A budget is as much about spending as it is about raising revenue, and individuals like you fund the federal government through income taxes and payroll taxes. That means we're all stakeholders in how that money is spent. No matter what your priorities – the federal budget affects you.

There is a flow-through of money from the federal government to the states, into counties and right into your own town. Federal funding comes into our communities in many ways, much of it in the form of cash assistance and usually funneled through state and local agencies. Each year the federal government provides hundreds of billions of dollars to states through grants and assistance programs. Programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provide assistance to families, while others like the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program allow communities to fund important public and private infrastructure. Many of these programs are crucial for states and their citizens, particularly now, as the current economic climate forces states to make tough budget choices.

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Federal dollars also land in our communities by supporting government services like building roads and bridges, and through the enforcement of safety regulations for things like food quality, drinking water, and clean air.

As stakeholders, it is our right and our obligation to see that our tax dollars are spent in ways that reflect our priorities. To do that we need to know where that money is going, and how budget decisions are made. Federal Budget 101 gives you that crucial information.

Throughout Federal Budget 101, you’ll see that some words are in bold text. Those are words you can find in the Federal Budget Glossary.