eRegions Newsletter

NEWS FROM WASHINGTON
Congress is in recess this week in recognition of President’s Day.  
 
Administration Releases FY 2021 Budget Proposal
Last week, the Trump Administration released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget proposal. Entitled “A Budget for America’s Future,” the budget would substantially cut funding for domestic programs, while increasing funding for defense. If adopted, the president’s budget would cut funding or eliminate programs important to regions, including workforce development, older Americans, emergency management, and energy and environment programs, community development, and the Economic Development Administration (EDA). 
 
The good news? There is no chance that this budget proposal will become law.  However, the president’s budget will frame all future budget and appropriations discussions.
 
The budget proposal has already stirred substantial criticism. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget wrote that the budget relies on “inflated economic growth assumptions, unrealistic policy savings, and other gimmicks to paper over its failure to sufficiently reduce the nation’s structural deficits and counteract the more than $4 trillion of debt the President has signed into law.”
 
Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) wrote in The Hill that the president’s budget is “a declaration of war on hardworking Americans, littered with misplaced priorities and callous cuts unsuccessfully pursued in past requests. At a time when many working families face challenges like stagnant wages and rising health care costs and struggle to get ahead under this administration, the president’s budget request would take our country in the wrong direction.”
 
But just as there have been significant criticisms of the president’s budget, there have also been those organizations and individuals who have praised it. The Heritage Foundation wrote that “President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2021 would reduce the size and reach of the federal bureaucracy significantly by shifting government responsibilities back to constitutional priorities and empowering state and local governments. . . These reforms, contained in the request Trump sent Monday morning to Congress, would put the budget on track to balance and represent a significant first step toward reducing spending and stabilizing the nation’s unsustainable debt.” 
 
Perhaps the most significant budget cuts would be to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The president’s budget would cut Medicare by roughly $500 billion, Medicaid by $900 billion, and Social Security by $24 billion over the next ten years. 
 
Cuts to social and human services programs are likely to have a major impact. The president’s budget proposed the following funding cuts:
  • The Department of Energy by 8 percent;
  • The Department of Health and Human Services by 10 percent;
  • The Department of Labor by 11 percent;
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development by 15 percent;
  • The Department of Commerce by nearly 50 percent; and
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by 26 percent.
Funding for the Department of Homeland Security would be increased by 3.2 percent, most of which would go to immigration enforcement.
 
Specifically, the president’s budget would:
  • Eliminate funding for the Community Development Block Grant and HOME Investment Partnerships Program;
  • Eliminate funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP);
  • Eliminate funding for 50 EPA programs including those that help fight pollution, radon, and lead as well as those that give clean water grants to small and disadvantaged communities;
  • Reduce funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency by $535 million; 
  • Eliminate $500 million in funding for “duplicative and unproven job training programs;”
  • Eliminate funding for several Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs including Native American programs, the Migrant and Seasonal Farm workers program and reduce funding to Youth Build and ex-offender activities;
  • Eliminate funding for the EDA;
  • Tighten Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP/Food Stamps) work requirements for individuals between the ages of 18-65, which the Department of Agriculture estimates will result in cuts of $36.6 billion over ten years;
  • Cut or maintain at current levels funding for Older Americans Act (OAO) programs; and
  • Keep funding for homeless programs at current levels.
Most of these cuts are likely to present significant problems for regions, counties, and cities. As the Administration puts increased pressure on cities to address homelessness, the lack of additional funds will put increased fiscal burdens on cities and counties for what is a national problem. The lack of resources to fight pollution, radon, and lead are likely to increase the number and types of environmental health problems that cities, counties, and regions can address. Further constraints on obtaining food stamps will mean that cities, counties and regions as well as charity organizations are likely to have to provide food to larger numbers of households and individuals.
 
It is worth mentioning again that there is little chance that any parts of the president’s proposal will be adopted. But as is always the case, the president’s budget provides a framework for the ongoing discussion over fiscal year 2021 appropriations and may represent the President’s “line in the sand” on funding for certain programs.
 
Over the next weeks and months as Congress works through the appropriations process, we will keep you informed of the proposals and what it means for our regions.   

NACo Testifies before House Subcommittee on America’s Recycling System
Montgomery County of Maryland Director of the Department of Environmental Protection Adam Ortiz testified on behalf of the National Association of Counties before the U.S. House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies hearing on improving community recycling programs. In his testimony, Director Ortiz said that environmental stewardship is a primary function of local governments to ensure healthy, safe, and vibrant communities for residents. Ortiz highlighted the authority and responsibility of local governments to undertake solid waste management activities including operating waste facilities, recycling centers, landfills, transfer stations, and many more. To ensure a safe and clean environment for localities across the country meaningful engagement with intergovernmental partners is vital in the development and implementation of recycling standards, policies, programs, and regulations.
OTHER NEWS
AT&T Expects to Finish 80% of FirstNet Buildout in Coming Months
During an AT&T quarterly earning call with financial analysts the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Jon Stankey announced AT&T expects to complete 80% of the contracted buildout of the FirstNet nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) “in the coming months.” If AT&T can reach the 80% buildout threshold by the end of March this year, it would be a full year ahead of the five-year contracted deployment schedule that started in March 2018. Reaching this 80% buildout mark has notable financial implications. Under the AT&T contract with the FirstNet Authority, the carrier giant is scheduled to receive incremental payments for reaching certain buildout milestones. Hitting the 80% mark would land the company more than $1 billion and upon completion of the FirstNet system AT&T could receive a maximum of $6.5 billion. Additionally the General Accountability Office (GAO), released a report providing additional details about adoption of the FirstNet system.
 
Shift to Digital Census Raises Fear of Iowa-Like Breakdown
Considering events that unfolded at the Iowa Caucus earlier this month many are concerned that current local government infrastructure cannot support the roll-out of new technology for major political events. Concern now exist over the new technology the Census Bureau plans to use to conduct the 2020 census. There are general concerns over cybersecurity and the maintenance of vital data. The Census Bureau ensures they are ready and have been working closely with the Department of Homeland Security to prevent cyber-attacks and hinder illegitimate responses by blocking foreign IP addresses and stopping bots from filling out fake responses. In addition, the bureau says it has developed two secure data-collection systems so if one goes down the other can substitute. Other mechanisms are in place to prevent failure and to back up essential functions.
REGIONAL SPOTLIGHT 
Members Meet with their Congressional Delegations
During the National Conference of Regions last week, members took advantage of being on Capitol Hill by meeting with their respective congressional delegations. Did you meet with your member of Congress and have a photo taken with them? Send them to Eli Spang at eli.spang@narc.org or tweet it to @NARCRegions!


The Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA) Met with Iowa Senator Joni Ernst
MAPA staff & board members met with Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) this past week to discuss flood recovery and help for those affected in Mills & Pottawattamie Counties over the past year.


Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) met with Texas Congressmen Brian Babin  
DETCOG met with Ranking Member Congressmen Brian Babin (R-TX), ranking member of the House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee and member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to discuss issues affecting the DETCOG region.


The San Luis Obispo Council of Governments (SLOCOG) met with California Congressmen Salud Carbajal
SLOCOG staff met with U.S. Congressmen Salud Carbajal (D-CA) to talk about the region’s transportation priorities.


The Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA) met with Nebraska Congressmen Donald Bacon
MAPA staff and Board members met with U.S. Congressmen Donald Bacon (R-NE) to share priorities as part of the National Conference of Regions.
FROM THE REGIONS LEAD BLOG
Jan 03, 2020 04:39 pm | Eli Spang

Just before leaving for their holiday recess, the House passed legislation that would suspend the $10,000 cap for state and local (SALT) tax deductions. Here’s a brief update on SALT deduction legislation.

The post A Brief Update on SALT Deduction Cap Legislation appeared first on Regions Lead.

FEATURED JOBS
View full list of jobs!

Planning Manager
Posted 2/18/2020
City of Frank, Franklin, WI

Community Development/Regional Planner
Posted 2/18/2020
Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments, Kelso, WA

Chief Financial Officer
Posted 2/6/2020
Wasatch Front Regional Council, Salt Lake City, UT

Manager of City Services
Posted 2/5/2020
Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Economic Development Specialist
Posted 1/30/2020
East Texas Council of Governments, Kilgore, TX

GRANTS
View full list of grants!

Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 DHS Preparedness Grants
Applications Due: April 15
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced the release of FY 2020 Notices of Funding Opportunity for eight DHS preparedness grant programs totaling nearly $1.8 billion. The grant programs provide funding to state, local, tribal and territorial governments, as well as transportation authorities, nonprofit organizations and the private sector, to improve the nation’s readiness in preventing, protecting against, responding to, recovering from and mitigating terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies.
 
National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Challenge America
Applications Due: April 9
The Challenge America category offers support primarily to small and mid-sized organizations for projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations — those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. Age alone (e.g., youth, seniors) does not qualify a group as underserved; at least one of the underserved characteristics noted above also must be present. Provide details about the underserved audience you select in your application using relevant statistics and anecdotal information. Proposals should detail the efforts made to reach the identified underserved population. Grants are available for professional arts programming and for projects that emphasize the potential of the arts in community development.
EVENTS
View full list of events!

President’s Budget and Outlook for FY 2021
February 18, 3:30-4:30 PM ET
Join Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding (CHCDF) to learn more about President Trump’s budget and the funding outlook for affordable housing and community development programs in FY 2021.
 
Using Federal Grants to Fund FirstNet Projects
February 19, 12:30-1:30 PM ET
Understanding the process and requirements for federal grants can be complex. In this All Things FirstNet webinar, guidance is provided on available grants for FirstNet communications projects, understanding the process of grant application development, the grant cycle, and other vital resources and steps needed in applying for grants.
 
The Role of States in Expanding Broadband Access
February 19, 2:00-3:00 PM ET
The majority of states across the country are increasing resources devoted to broadband deployment, supporting digital inclusion initiatives and focusing their attention towards broadband policy coordination across different state agencies. While there is no one size fits all, states are implementing innovative approaches to increase broadband access and adoption. Join BroadbandUSA in a conversation on how broadband is being implemented at the state level in addition to research by The Pew Charitable Trusts on state broadband programs and innovative approaches to help overcome the digital divide.
 
It’s Almost Super Tuesday. Races to Watch with Greg Giroux
February 25, 3:00 PM ET
The next webinar in the Races to Watch series is all about Super Tuesday. As we count down to the start of the primaries and the official start of the 2020 election season, BGOV analysts are pulling together the data and identifying races to watch. With the primaries around the corner this webinar will discuss the current state of Congress, the pre-election landscape in Washington, and more. Join Bloomberg Government senior reporter and resident election guru, Greg Giroux, for a look ahead to Super Tuesday, the 2020 elections and its surrounding implications.

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