Tag: federal budget

What smart growth advocates need to know about the omnibus appropriations bill

Congress
Last night, Congress released a $1.1 trillion omnibus appropriations bill for fiscal year 2014, which lays out funding for agencies and their programs working to help communities build in smarter, stronger ways.

The bill contains many high points for smart growth advocates, and if you were one of the many people who encouraged Congress to pass a strong appropriations bill in the past few days, thank you. Your voices were heard!

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Will the first Promise Zones also be the last?

Later today at the White House, President Obama will announce the first ever Promise Zone communities.

Promise Zones explore new strategies to bolster local economies. From education to housing to job creation, the program helps communities find creative solutions to their challenges—and that’s something every town and city can learn from.

Voice your support for community innovation: Send a letter to Congress today.

Today, Congress is debating whether communities will be able to keep doing this work.

The House and the Senate are still negotiating fiscal year 2014’s federal budget—including important programs that support community development.

Promise Zones are just one of the many federal initiatives that could be hampered—or eliminated—when Congress reaches a final budget deal.

Tell Congress to support programs like Promise Zones: Send a letter to your representatives today.

San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, southeastern Kentucky and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma—the first five Promise Zone communities—will get new resources to help them grow stronger from the ground up.

Federal programs have helped hundreds of other communities—and can help hundreds more—but Congress needs to hear from you to make it happen. Take a minute and send a letter today.

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Congress is nearing a budget deal – speak out today

This is a crucial time for national community development programs.

Today, committees in both the House and Senate are working on bills to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year—including key programs at the Department of Transportation, Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency. How much these programs receive in the coming year is currently under debate.

The bills will soon go to a vote, and so now is the time to speak out for these important programs.

Tell Congress to support community development in this year’s budget: Send a letter to your representatives today.

Together we can help communities clean up brownfields, reuse already developed land, revitalize neighborhoods and expand transportation options.

The Partnership for Sustainable Communities’ planning grants, brownfields assessment and clean up assistance, and the innovative TIGER program are all critical to this work. These programs get more out of public investment and help communities build in ways that will support local economies for decades to come—but Congress needs to hear from you.

Tell Congress to fund community development programs: Send a letter to your members today.

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Congress reaches a two-year budget agreement. What’s next?

On Tuesday the Congressional budget conference committee, chaired by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), reached a tentative agreement on the next two years’ federal operating budget. What does this mean for federal smart growth programs?

First, the big picture. The new deal sets top-line discretionary federal spending at $1.012 trillion for fiscal year (FY) 2014, $1.014 trillion for FY 2015 and provides $63 billion of sequester relief. Both the House and Senate still need to approve the budget before it becomes official: The House will vote on the budget agreement today and the Senate will likely take up a vote sometime next week. The measure is expected to pass both chambers.

The proposed agreement comes after Congress failed to reach a budget agreement in October, causing most of the federal government to shut down. The House and Senate eventually agreed on a short-term continuing resolution for the current fiscal year which is set to expire on January 15, 2014. If the proposed budget passes both chambers, Congress will have until January 15 to set funding levels for all federal programs.

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Policy Update: Federal Government Shutdown

As of midnight on September 30th, the Federal Government was ‘shutdown’ after Congress was unable to agree upon the terms of a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government past September 30th.

House Republicans fought to delay and defund parts of the Affordable Care Act despite President Obama and Senate Democrats saying they would not support any such bill. Instead, Senate Democrats passed a ‘clean’ CR to fund the government through November 15th. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) on Monday that she would provide votes from House Democrats to pass a multi-month funding resolution. But that didn’t happen.

The ‘shutdown’ will not affect critical government services such as military, air traffic controllers, mail, Social Security and Medicare. However, many programs that are funded through the annual appropriations process will come to a halt until further notice.

The last government shut down occurred 17 years ago when Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the House and Bill Clinton was President. That shut down lasted 28 days.

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Rethink Real Estate: Eliminate some rate subsidies from the National Flood Insurance Program

Clarksville, TN
Federally subsidized flood insurance makes it easier to build homes in flood-prone areas. Image via Wikimedia.

This is the first in a series of posts discussing recommendations from our new platform Federal Investment in Real Estate: A Call for Action. The series will highlight what is lacking in current federal real estate policy and how our recommended improvements could generate better returns for families, communities and taxpayers.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is intended to provide property owners and renters with a way to financially protect themselves from flood damage. Administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the NFIP works closely with nearly 90 private insurance companies to offer flood insurance to homeowners, renters and business owners.

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House subcommittee introduces bill that cuts funding to Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development

Earlier today the House Appropriations Subcommittee introduced the fiscal year 2014 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill. The bill slashes funding to programs at both the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by $7.7 billion compared to their 2013 spending levels. At DOT, the budget would eliminate funding for the TIGER grant program and rescind $237 million in unobligated TIGER funding from 2013. The bill would also eliminate funding for high-speed rail and cut Amtrak’s subsidy by a third.

At HUD the bill would cut overall funding by 35% compared to FY 2013, including a 50% cut to Community Development Block Grants and a 30% cut to the HOME Investment Partnership Program. The bill would also zero out funding for HUD’s Office of Economic Resilience, created just this year. President Obama’s FY 2014 budget proposed $75 million in funding for that office.

In response to the proposed bill, Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America, issued the following statement.

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Senators and Representatives sign on to letter supporting the Partnership for Sustainable Communities

Senator Reed
Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, is one of the recipients of this week’s letters. Photo via the Committee on Appropriations.

Last month we asked smart growth advocates to speak out in support of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. Hundreds of supporters sent letters to their members of Congress, and Congress listened.

If you were one of the many people who sent letters to your members of Congress, thank you. Your voice was heard and Congress is taking action to support these important programs. In total, 29 members of Congress signed letters championing better development programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in fiscal year 2014’s budget.

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What President Obama’s budget proposal means for community development programs

Crossposted from The Atlantic Cities

President Obama’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2014, released this morning, focuses on economic growth and a strong middle class. Better urban development isn’t the first item on that agenda, but it’s an important part of the administration’s priorities for the coming year.

Three agencies in particular are at the core of that work, with offices dedicated to making sure community development contributes to regional and national economic growth. The president’s 2014 budget would change how each of these agencies invest in community development. Here’s how it breaks down:

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would see a significant increase in funds for neighborhood revitalization through $400 million in funding for the Choice Neighborhoods program (up from $120 million appropriated in 2012). The budget cuts funding for the Community Development Block Grant program to $2.8 billion (down from $3.241 billion in 2012), but includes $200 million in new competitive funding to reduce and repurpose vacant and blighted properties and create jobs in communities hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis.

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Washington Update: With 2013 budget finalized, talks begin for 2014 funding levels

Federal budget

Intense budget negotiations in Washington over the past few weeks have made little reference to funding for the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities. But Congress is already discussing next year’s budget, and now is the time to weigh in on future spending.

On March 26, President Obama signed into law a final Fiscal Year 2013 spending package which retained the automatic $85 billion in spending cuts known as the sequester. Most federal agencies—including HUD, DOT and EPA—will have to make reductions in spending by the end of FY 2013 on September 30th, 2013.

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