November 22, 2011
Re: Federal Issue: Impact of Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction on Local Programs
With the November 23 deadline quickly approaching for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (“Super Committee”) to make recommendations on $1.2 trillion in budget cuts, and no agreement in sight, the House and Senate last week passed a $128 billion agreement that combines agriculture appropriations with commerce-justice-science and transportation and housing appropriations. The agreement (also known as a Mini-bus) also contains a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown and continue funding for the federal agencies not covered by the agreement until December 16.
Here are a few highlights of the bill:
Unfortunately, nearly every program that falls under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which provides essential seed funds for improving housing and neighborhoods in cities and towns, large and small, across the country, will be cut under the agreement. Overall, the agreement calls for cuts in total spending for housing and development programs to $37.3 billion, $3.8 billion less than last year.
The Community Development Block Grant program, formula grants to cities and states, is reduced to $2.9 billion, a $420 million cut below last year’s level. The HOME program, which supports affordable housing activities, is reduced to $1 billion, nearly 40 percent below last year’s level. The agreement calls for the elimination of funding for the Sustainable Communities Initiative and the HOPE VI grant programs for fiscal year 2012, the Choice Neighborhoods initiative, which the Administration has been championing as a successor to HOPE VI, is funded, albeit on life-support, at $120 million.
In the transportation section of the agreement, Congress provides $500 million for the popular Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program and $39.9 billion for the federal highway program, the same as last year. It funds the Federal Aviation Administration at $12.5 billion, an increase over last year; Amtrak at $1.4 billion; and transit at $2.1 billion, which is $515 million over last year. As cities and towns seek to improve the infrastructure in their communities and create jobs, funding for these programs will continue to be a top priority.
In the public safety and crime prevention section of the agreement, Congress approved calls for cuts in funding for programs that help state and local governments keep their communities safe and provide services to those who have served their time. It provides $370 million for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (Byrne JAG); the program received $424 million in fiscal year 2011. It allocates $166 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring program, $71 million less than last year but good news for a program that was slated for complete elimination in earlier versions of the spending bills. Programs to support ex-offender reentry initiatives are also slated to receive less this year with funds for the Second Chance Act program reduced to $63 million, $20 million less than last year.
We will continue to keep you posted on any further developments. For more information please contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121 or email@example.com
Very truly yours,
William G. Dressel, Jr.