eRegions

NOTE: NARC newsletters are typically uploaded to the website on the Friday of the week they were sent out.

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May 22, 2017

CONFERENCE NOTE
It’s not too late to sign up for the Annual Conference, which is just a couple weeks away. You won’t want to miss our line-up of speakers on today’s important issues.  Additionally, you still have time to nominate someone for a seat on the Executive Directors Council and Board of Directors. Please consult open seats and the list of declared candidates for further detail.

If you plan to attend, don’t forget to sign up for our mobile tour. If you have already completed registration and still need to secure your spot for the tour, please contact Anna Rosenbaum at anna@narc.org or 202-618-6363.

17-Mile Drive and Carmel Mobile Tour
Sunday, June 4, 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Widely recognized as one of the most scenic drives in the world, this famous coastal landmark runs from Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach, featuring awe-inspiring vistas and legendary sites perfect for an afternoon of exploration. Marvel at some of nature’s treasures, including: the Lone Cypress, Spanish Bay, and Stillwater Cove. Time will be provided to explore downtown Carmel, where you can enjoy a leisurely lunch, do a bit of shopping, or just stroll around to take in the beauty. You’ll want to bring a camera, comfortable walking shoes, and a sweater or light jacket. The cost is $40.

NEWS FROM WASHINGTON
Congress is in session.

The President’s Budget
Tomorrow the president’s fiscal year 2018 budget, A New Foundation for American Greatness, is expected to be released. We already know quite a bit about this budget. We know that the:

  • President plans to propose $1.7 trillion in cuts to major social and entitlement programs for lower-income Americans, as part of an effort to balance the budget within a decade.
  • President’s budget would reprioritize spending in important ways. For example, as highlighted in the March “skinny budget,” the president would end the caps in place for defense discretionary programs, increase funding by $54 billion or 10 percent in 2018, and pay for it by reducing funding for discretionary programs by an equal amount. Discretionary programs are likely to include transportation, aging, workforce development, and Community Develop Block Grants (CDBG) – to name just a few.
  • Budget would cut mandatory spending substantially, including Medicaid, Food Stamps, Welfare, Supplemental Security Income, disability benefits, and Earned Income Tax Credits payments. If adopted, these cuts would total more than $500 billion over 10 years.
  • Budget would spend $2.8 billion for border security, new agents, and the border wall.
  • President will call for major tax reform that reduces taxes for individuals and corporations while stimulating growth, so that the proposal would be revenue neutral (according to the Office of Management and Budget).

What we do not know yet is the fate of programs like CDBG; the Social Services Block Grant; aging services; and others that target lower-income communities, families, and individuals. It is clear that the president has not backed down from his commitment to raise military spending by 10 percent, increase spending for border security enough to build a border wall, radically alter the tax system, and undo many important safety net programs. Moreover, we know that the $54 billion increase for military spending will come directly from non-defense discretionary programs.

A bit of good news is that Republican leaders say they will craft their own proposals to reflect their program priorities, and those priorities may be at odds with the administration’s priorities.

Repeal and Replace Obamacare
On May 24, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is expected to release cost-estimates for the House-passed bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. An earlier version of this bill, which did not pass the House, would have reduced the deficit by about $109 billion but at the cost of eliminating care for 24 million Americans. If the CBO scores are still unfavorable, the House may have to hold another vote before they can send the bill to the Senate.

Committee Highlights
Following the release of the full FY2018 budget request, we can expect cabinet secretaries and agency heads to make their way to the Hill to start explaining and defending priorities before their respective committees. OMB Director Mick Mulvaney will be the first. He will testify before the House Budget Committee on Wednesday and the Senate Budget Committee on Thursday. According to Bloomberg Government, the following will make their way to the Hill this week:

  • Education Secretary DeVos will testify before the House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee on Wednesday to defend deep cuts to education programs and increased spending to promote School Choice.
  • Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue will appear before the House Appropriations Agriculture-FDA Subcommittee on Wednesday to defend proposed cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP or food stamps).
  • Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will testify at a House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee hearing on Thursday to defend steep cuts to (or the elimination of) the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA).

FCC Votes to Advance Net Neutrality Repeal
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to roll back net neutrality took its first step forward last Thursday. The commission voted 2-1 along party lines to advance Pai’s Restoring Internet Freedom proposal, which would repeal current net neutrality protections.

Census Funding Woes
Many predict severe, long-term consequences for the 2020 Census count and the programs that rely on it. The latest funding proposals fall drastically short on funding for the decennial count, and the Government Accountability Office added the program to its “high risk” list in February. Plus, Director John Thompson recently announced that he plans to resign at the end of next month. Former agency officials and Census advocates are worried that inadequate preparation could significantly impact the accuracy of the count. Given that congressional redistricting and funding for hundreds of federal programs rely on this count, the reliability of these numbers carry steep consequences. Particularly, certain segments of the country are much more vulnerable to inaccuracies or underreporting than others. Racial and ethnic minorities, poorer households, and those on the margins of society could be disproportionately hurt if the Census reaches fewer households.

OTHER NEWS


NARC’s Infrastructure Week Event: Preparing for Autonomous Vehicles on Our Roads
To wrap up the 2017 Infrastructure Week, NARC and the National League of Cities (NLC) hosted an event on autonomous vehicles. The speakers discussed workforce issues, equity in technology, safety regulations, big data, and what role the federal government should play in all this. Doug Hooker from the Atlanta Regional Commission emphasized the importance of looking at this issue from a regional level and examining the benefits and drawbacks so we can prepare effectively. In conjunction with the event, NARC Director of Transportation Programs Erich Zimmermann and NLC’s Nicole DuPuis coauthored a blog post about self-driving cars.

To read more about the multitude of events and discussions held during the week, the organizers put together a list of further resources and summaries.

REGION SPOTLIGHT

REGIONS LEAD
Visit www.regionslead.org to read up on the latest NARC blogs. We invite members to submit blogs to the site too.

Why Do We Need Infrastructure Week?
by Neil Bomberg
As we approach Infrastructure Week (May 15 through 19) – a week of education and advocacy designed to draw attention to the importance of infrastructure to our nation’s economy, jobs, and communities – we should stop for a moment and ask why? Why must we have an Infrastructure Week? Shouldn’t the wealthiest nation on the planet have the best infrastructure in the world? We should, but sadly, we don’t.

At Long Last… A FY 2017 Omnibus Appropriations Bill
by Neil Bomberg
After weeks of negotiations that at times seemed as if they would breakdown, the House and Senate early Monday morning reached an agreement on an appropriations bill that would increase military spending by $15 billion, maintain non-defense discretionary funding, and increase border security funding by $1.5 billion, but would prohibit any border security funds from being used to build the proposed border wall. The compromise bill seems more in keeping with Obama-era priorities than Trump-era priorities.

President’s Tax Plan Leaves Out Infrastructure
by Erich Zimmermann
As you have no doubt heard by now, the Trump administration released a tax reform “plan” that filled just one side of a single sheet of paper. Which is to say, the plan is light on details… Aside from the elimination of some tax deductions, the only other offset mentioned is a one-time tax on overseas earnings, or repatriation. This is notable if you care about infrastructure. Repatriation funding has long been considered the primary way to pay for a significant infrastructure investment.

MEMBER REQUESTS
Please email responses to anna@narc.org.

FEATURED JOBS
View full list of jobs!

Modeler III/IV
Wasatch Front Regional Council, Salt Lake City, UT

Assistant Planner
Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho, Meridian, ID

Economic and Community Development Director
City of Decatur, Decatur, IL

Senior Transportation Planner
River to Sea Transportation Planning Organization, Daytona Beach, FL

Manager Transportation Planning
Houston-Galveston Area Council, Houston, TX

Principal Planner-Transportation
Houston-Galveston Area Council, Houston, TX

FUNDING
View full list of grants!

Advanced Transportation and Congestion Management Technologies Deployment Initiative
Applications Due: June 12
Awardees will develop model deployment sites for large scale installation and operation of advanced transportation technologies to improve safety, efficiency, system performance, and infrastructure return on investment. These model deployments are expected to provide benefits in the form of: reduced traffic-related fatalities and injuries; reduced traffic congestion and improved travel time reliability; reduced transportation-related emissions; optimized multimodal system performance; improved access to transportation alternatives, including for underserved populations; public access to real time integrated traffic, transit, and multimodal transportation information to make informed travel decisions; cost savings to transportation agencies, businesses, and the traveling public; or other benefits to transportation users and the general public. This competitive advanced transportation and congestion management technologies deployment grant program will promote the use of innovative transportation solutions. The deployment of these technologies will provide Congress and the U.S. Department of Transportation with valuable real life data and feedback to inform future decision making.

EDA NOFA: $17 Million Available to Spur Regional Innovation
Applications Due: June 23
EDA published the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for its 2017 Regional Innovations Strategies (RIS) program.  The $17 million being made available through the RIS NOFA will help to spur innovation capacity-building activities in regions across the nation. Under this competition, EDA is seeking applications for two separate funding opportunities: the i6 Challenge and the Seed Fund Support (SFS) Grant competition.

  •  i6 Challenge ($13M): Across the country, regions and communities are helping entrepreneurs overcome challenging barriers to help build new companies and create jobs through the efforts of universities, National Labs, state and local governments, incubators, and various other organizations. The i6 Challenge helps drive these efforts by supporting the creation and expansion of programs that increase the rate at which innovations, ideas, intellectual property, and research are translated into products, services, viable companies, and, ultimately, jobs.
  • Seed Fund Support (SFS) Grant Competition ($4M): The availability of funding for early-stage companies is an essential element of a healthy innovation-based regional ecosystem. Taking an idea or innovation from conception to market often requires capital, but in many regions across the country, innovators and entrepreneurs struggle to find that capital. SFS grants provide funding for technical assistance and operational costs that support the planning, formation, launch, or scale of cluster-based seed funds that will invest their capital in innovation-based startups with a potential for high growth.

Funding for both programs is available to all communities regardless of level of distress.

EVENTS
View full list of events!

Livestream: Uncovering Innovation in Salt Lake City
May 23, 8:15-10:15 AM MT
Route Fifty will be in Salt Lake City to highlight the innovations driving Utah’s state, county, and municipal governments, including discussions on Envision 2040 and 2050, regional initiatives, and a talk with Salt Lake County Mayor McAdams about the Mountain Accord. Route Fifty will talk with state and local officials about what what makes these leaders, teams, and programs so successful, as well as what lessons can be applied to governments across the country.

Value of Water Campaign Webinar: The Economic Opportunity of Investing in Water Infrastructure
May 31, 12:00-1:00 PM ET
In March, the Value of Water Campaign released a new report on Capitol Hill evaluating the economic benefits of investing in water infrastructure. Communities across the U.S. rely on an aging system of water pipes and over 156,000 public water systems that each serve at least 25 people per day. It’s estimated that a water main breaks every two minutes across the nation–wreaking havoc for homes and businesses. Manufacturing revenues alone are found to decline by an average of 20 percent due to a disruption in water service. The report finds that if we close the investment gap for water infrastructure, there is a ripple effect of sustained job creation and GDP growth, resulting in over $220 billion in total annual economic activity to the country. A one-day disruption in water service represents a loss of $43.5 billion in sales and $22.5 billion in GDP. Join this webinar to dive into the benefits of investing in water infrastructure, from job creation to sparking economic activity.

51st Annual Conference & Exhibition
June 4-7 – Monterey, CA
Join NARC and the California Association of Councils of Governments for NARC’s 51st Annual Conference and Exhibition, which focuses on promoting effective regional cooperation and solutions through interaction and education.

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