President Obama Signs Final 2009 Omnibus Spending Bill, Increases Funds for Many Local Priorities
By Conference Staff
March 23, 2009
President Barack Obama signed into law March 11 a $410 billion omnibus spending bill that combined nine of the federal government’s 12 regular appropriations bill into a massive spending package to fund most federally assisted domestic programs for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2009, which ends on September 30. Last year, congressional leaders disagreed with President George W. Bush on spending levels for many domestic programs. Thinking their chances for increasing funding for these programs would be better in a new Administration, congressional leaders decided to delay action on the FY 2009 appropriations until after the November elections.
Overall, the omnibus bill represents a $31 billion increase over last year’s funding level for programs funded by the nine bills, and $19 billion more than President Bush requested. Many local priorities benefited from the increase including community development block grants, Section 8 rental assistance, public housing, state and local law enforcement assistance, mass transit, Pell grants, children health insurance, nutritional support for women infants and children and the Head Start pre'school program.
The following is summary of funding levels for some of the key programs of interest to the nation’s mayors. A more detailed budget chart covering more programs and comparing final FY 2009 funding levels to FY 2008 funding levels can be accessed by going to the website at usmayors.org and clicking on FY 2009 Budget Chart.
Community Development and Housing
Almost all of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HD) programs received an increase in FY09. The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program was increased from $3.593 billion to $3.642 billion. The HOME Investment Partnerships Program was also increased from $1.704 billion to $1.825 billion. HOPE VI, the program that provides funding for severely distressed public housing, was modestly increased from $100 to $120 million.
The Section 8 Rental Assistance (Tenant Based) was also funded at a higher level, increasing from $16.391 billion to $16.817 billion. Public Housing Operating and the Public Housing Capital Fund were also increased to $4.455 billion and $2.450 billion respectively. The Public Housing Operating funding was $4.2 billion last year, while Capital funding was $2.439 billion. Brownfields Assistance at HUD maintained its funding level of $10 million. In the Commerce Department, the Economic Development Administration’s economic assistance program was slightly reduced from $243 million to $240 million.
The FY 2009 appropriations bill provides $1.3 billion for state and local law enforcement assistance, considerably more than the $908 million available in FY 2008 and the $404 million the President proposed for FY 2009. Included in this is $546 million for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants – more than three times the amount that was available in FY 2008 – and $40 million for drug court – more than two and a half times the amount that was available in FY 2008.
Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) are funded at $550 million in FY 2009, less than the $587 million that was available in FY 2008. Within COPS funding, it includes $187 million for technology and interoperability – slightly less than was available in FY 2008 – and $156 million for DNA Backlog/Crime Lab Improvement – slightly more than was available in FY 2008. No funding is included for COPS hiring grants.
Most homeland security programs were funded at FY 2008 levels in the FY 2009 appropriations bill. Those seeing a small increase include High-Threat Urban Areas, up from $805 million in FY 2008 to $838 million in FY 2009; Real ID Implementation Grants, up from $50 million in FY 2008 to $100 million in FY 2009; Firefighter grants up from $560 million to $565 million; Fire Department Staff Assistance grants, up from $190 million to $210 million; and Emergency Management Performance Grants, up from $300 million to $315 million.
The omnibus bill includes $71.5 billion for the U.S. Department of Transportation. This includes an obligation of $40.7 billion for the federal-aid highway program, $15.5 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and $10.2 billion for mass transit. In total, the federal-aid highway program is one percent below last year but four percent above the Bush budget request.
For mass transit, the omnibus provides almost $740 million more than last year’s level – an increase of 7.8 percent. The increase is still not as large as the current federal surface transportation law (SAFETEA-LU) envisioned, as the total FTA budget is $107 million below the level guaranteed by that law. Transit highlights include an increase of $240 million for Capital Investment Grants for commuter rail or other light rail systems to increase public use of mass transit, alleviate traffic congestion, reduce gas consumption, and save commuters time and money. In addition, it includes an increase of $493 million for Formula and Bus Grants for on-going capital and operating needs of urban and rural transit systems, including funding for new buses, stations, intermodal facilities, and technology improvements.
The FAA received $15.5 billion for FY 2009, a 5.6 percent increase over the Bush Administration’s budget request. The AIP program was level funded at $3.5 billion.
Amtrak, the nation’s intercity passenger rail corporation, received $1.49 billion, which is $165 million above last year. In addition, the bill includes $25 million for freight line reduction and improvement and $90 million for intercity passenger rail grants to improve safety, reliability, and on time performance of intercity passenger trains (The stimulus bill: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, ARRA, includes $8 billion for this program and high'speed rail). This is an increase of $60 million from last year.
When combined with ARRA, the USDOT will receive $119.6 billion in 2009. This is a 67.3 percent increase from last year.
Job Training Programs
For Workforce Investment Act programs, the omnibus bill provides $5.3 billion in FY 2009, which represents an increase of $128 million over last year. The Adult Training Grants program, which provides assistance to help train and re-employ workers for new careers, and the Youth Training formula grant were level funded at $861 million and $924 million respectively. The Dislocated Worker program, which provides retraining assistance to workers who lost their job due to the economic crisis, was funded at $1.5 billion, a slight increase of $18 million over last year; the Job Corps program was funded at $1.7 billion, $73 million over last year and the Prison Re-Entry program was funded at $108 million, $35 million more than FY 2008.
For the Education Department, the omnibus bill provides a total of $66.5 billion, an overall increase of $4.5 billion over last year’s funding level. Mandatory costs, primarily for postsecondary student aid programs, received the largest increase, with Pell grants accounting for $3 billion of the increase. Title I of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which provides grants to local education agencies to assist disadvantaged students at more than 50,000 schools improve their academic achievement, is funded at $14.5 billion, a $592 million increase over FY 2008.
Also the federal share of spending on special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) Part B State Grants is increased by $555 million for a total of $11.5 billion in FY 2009. The Reading First State Grants program, which has been plagued with mismanagement and other problems, was eliminated.
Most energy programs were funded at FY 2008 levels in the FY 2009 omnibus bill. The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy and Efficiency and Renewable Energy programs received more than $1.9 billion, which is $673 million more than the amount requested by President Bush and $206 million above FY 2008 level. The bill includes $200 million for the Weatherization program and $50 million for the State Energy Program. The Electricity and Energy Reliability program received $166.9 million, which is $32 million above the budget request and $28 million over FY 2008. The funding will provide increased investment to support renewable energy integration into the electric transmission grid. It also includes $50 million for competitive grants to tribes and localities for Renewable Energy/Zero Energy Demonstration projects; and $51 million for Advanced Battery Research for Plug-in Hybrids and $15 million for intermediate ethanol blend testing in older automobiles. The nuclear waste storage site, Yucca Mountain, would receive $386.4 million, the same as current year funding.
llion for intermediate ethanol blend testing in older automobiles. The nuclear waste storage site, Yucca Mountain, would receive $386.4 million, the same as current year funding.
The omnibus bill increased overall funding for the Environmental Protection Agency to $7.6 billion for FY 2009, $174 million above the FY 2008 funding level. The Superfund program took a major cut and was funded at only $605 million, down from the $1.25 billion enacted in FY 2008. The Brownfields program was slightly better than level funded, growing from to $95 million in FY 2008 to $97 million in FY 2009.
The Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund, a means of financial support for local wastewater treatment facilities, remained level funded at $689 million. However, last year’s allocation was a major reduction of nearly $400 million, from $1.084 billion in FY 2007. The Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund fared better, receiving $829 million, which is down slightly by $13 million from FY 2008.
Air toxics and air quality programs received $224 million, $7.2 million above 2008 for grants to states to implement the Clean Air Act.
EPA climate protection programs, received a sizable jump in funding to $232 million ($39 million above 2008) for programs, including $50 million for EPA’s Energy Star and $10 million for new grants at EPA to encourage local communities to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.
Health and Human Services
Many health and human services programs received significant increases in the omnibus appropriations bill. The State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) received $13.028 billion for FY 2009, which is 71 percent more than the $7.600 billion available in FY 2008 and 59 percent more than the $8.202 billion requested by the Administration. Also on February 4, the President signed into law legislation reauthorizing SCHIP, to ensure continued health care coverage for children in modest-income families that earn too much for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private insurance. Over the last ten years, the program has proven to be successful and cost-effective. Passage of the bill was a major victory for the Conference of Mayors.
The Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program was funded at $6.9 billion in FY 2009, which is $655 million more than last year’s funding level of $6.205 billion. Head Start, which provides access to high quality preschool services to 900,000 low-income children across the nation, was funded at $7.1 billion, $210 million more than available last year.
National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities
The bill provides for $155 million each for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. This represents a $10 million increase for both agencies. This marks the second consecutive increase in federal funding for both of these cultural agencies. The Office of Museum Services within the Institute for Museum & Library Services will receive $35 million, up from $31 million last year.