Budget Battle Begins

Spectrum fees proposed, again... like always
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WASHINGTON—The White House released a budget for fiscal year 2017 that proposes to spend a record $4.1 trillion and includes a number of initiatives such as more investment in cybersecurity for federal agencies and the levying of spectrum license user fees. 

A line item for spectrum license user fees—which would apply to broadcasters, cable, satellite and other spectrum license holders—would net the government $4.8 billion over the next decade, with proposed fees totaling $225 million in 2017, and escalating annually to $550 million by 2020, where it would hold until 2026.

But this isn’t necessarily a done deal: This spectrum fee has been removed during the budget debate process in years past; it did not find its way into the 2016 final budget.

The proposed budget also calls for a sizable uptick in spending on federal cybersecurity infrastructure via a new Cybersecurity National Action Plan. This addition would allocate $19 billion to upgrade cybersecurity infrastructure across government agencies, including $3 billion for an overhaul of federal computer systems to retire, replace or modernize antiquated IT infrastructure.

The proposed budget would raise taxes on the order of $2.6 trillion over the next 10 years.

“This budget is not about looking back at the road we have traveled,” Obama said in his statement to Congress. “It is about answering the big questions that will define America and the world in the 21st century.”

Republican lawmakers expressed frustration over items in the proposal, which now heads to Congress for its consideration. The document, as it stands, is unlikely to be passed by the Republican-controlled Congress, though elements of the budget can be advanced without endorsing the entire proposal.

The proposed 2017 budget is here.