Hello to all of the great employees of the United States Department
of the Interior. I'm Ken Salazar, your Secretary. I wanted today to
comment on the President's budget, which he put forward, which
includes the funding programs for the United States' Department of
the Interior for the fiscal year 2014.
It is a very good budget. It turns off the sequester and it puts us
back on the funding path which is worthy of your efforts and worthy
of the mission of this department.
We, because of the sequester, and because of the continued
resolution, essentially these very tough times, which I know are
having an effect on all of you. The Department's budget right now
stands at a point that's a level that's essentially about the same
level as 2006, 2007. That's not sustainable for the future of the
Department to carry on its mission as the custodian of America's
natural resources and history.
All of you are working very hard all across this country, and all
50 states, and out into the oceans. The President's budget will
support our programs into the future in very significant ways.
Number one, it will turn off the sequester and the stops and starts
of the fiscal craziness that we all have had to live through over
the last several years, so that is very good. It will give us
stability and provide certainty to the people of this country who
depend so much n the work that we do.
The budget also will continue to push forward with the major work
that we do, focusing in on the "all of the above" energy strategy
for the President and for the nation. Major investments and
improvements in what we will do on the conventional energy side, as
well as continuing our renewable energy revolution on public lands
and in the offshore areas of our nation.
The budget also moves forward with our robust "America's Great
Outdoors" twenty-first century conservation legacy. It moves
forward in a manner that continues to fund the great progress that
we've made in places like the Crown of the Continent, the
Everglades, and so many other places all around this country.
Third, the budget is a major enhancement of our continuing efforts
on our work and responsibility for first Americans in the United
States. For Alaska Natives and indigenous people, this is work
which has a moral root, and we have made huge progress in the last
four years in changing the relationship with the Indian country and
with Alaska Natives. This budget continues to make sure that that
work will continue, including addressing water-rights settlements,
law-enforcement issues, education, and a number of other matters
that are very important to Indian country.
Fourth, our work continues on water and science issues, significant
investments in science, including the USGS, with water gauges, as
well as making sure that we're understanding what is happening with
the drought issues and planning for future water supply both there
as well as in the Bureau of Reclamation. Those are all important
Finally, want to note as well that for the last four years, here in
the Department of Interior, we have created about 84,000 jobs,
where we've had young people ages 15 to 25 who have come and worked
with us in each one of our agencies at the Department of Interior.
Because of the sequester and the continuing resolution, this year,
2013, we probably will only be able to hire somewhere around 15,000
young people. That means about 7,000 less than we would have done
in a typical year or a year ago.
We're fighting back on that, and this budget that the president has
endorsed will allow us to get back to the point where we're hiring
over 22,000 young people to, number one, help us carry out the
mission of the Department of Interior, and number two, have these
young people get an opportunity to learn what it is that we do here
at the department, because they are going to be the next generation
of the employees here at the department.
In conclusion, this budget for the fiscal year 2014, which starts
October of this year, would get us out of the ditch. It would turn
off the sequester, undo the damages of the CR, and move us forward,
to continue to build on the success that we had in the first two
years that I served as your Secretary of Interior.
I look forward to having all of you make sure that the people of
the United States know the great work that you do. And we look
forward to having this budget enacted into law with the support of
Congress. Thank you all very much, and have a great day.