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Congress passes spending bill.

The House and Senate passed an Omnibus spending bill in a rare Saturday session on November 20. The 3,016-page agreement includes funding for nine fiscal year 2005 spending bills. As a whole, the legislation is a mixed bag for NLC's priority programs.

NLC priority programs are summarized on the chart on page 8.

Congress made additional across-the-board cuts of 0.80 percent to every budget line item in the bill (which are not reflected in the numbers below). President Bush is expected to sign the bill, with all its technical corrections, into law shortly after Thanksgiving.

The FY 2005 Onmibus is still being held open in Congress so as to avoid potential "pocket veto" problems.

Consequently, there is a possibility, though extremely unlikely, that the appropriators, leadership, and the Administration could make small additional changes before the legislation's final enactment.

Despite an eleventh-hour grassroots response by NLC members and other local officials groups, and the support of many members of Congress, the COPS program saw severe cuts within its hiring grants line item this year. The overall COPS account was funded at roughly $606 million for FY 2005, a reduction of nearly $150 million.

However, hiring grants, sometimes known as UHP grants, bore the brunt of the funding cuts with nearly $110 million dollars slashed from last year's funding level. Congress left only $9.7 million for officer hiring grants in this year's bill. Of that amount, nearly $5 million was set aside for school resource officers.

Other programs within the COPS account, however, did fairly well. Congress funded COPS interoperability grants at nearly $100 million dollars, an increase of $15 million over last year's sum. Similarly, the methamphetamine hot spots account received more than $52 million while the Bullet Proof Vests account was allocated roughly $25 million.

Finally, to help localities catch up on the backlog of forensics and DNA evidence, the bill allocates roughly $125 million, a slight increase over last year.

Another program of interest to local governments is the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant (LLEBG) program. The Omnibus bill merges this important program with the Byrne Grant program and allocates roughly $628 million for the two combined.

Both programs together were funded at roughly $650 million in FY 2004.

The new program, referred to as JAG, will allocate funds via a formula where localities will receive roughly 40 percent of the total allocation directly from the Department of Justice.

For this year, that means local governments will receive nearly $245 million in direct federal funding for policing activities, a slight decrease of $10 million from last year. The bill earmarks $95 million of JAG funds for Boys and Girls Clubs and other programs. While this lowers the amount that can go to local governments, there is a significant difference this year in that the states will actually have to shoulder 60 percent of that cost--something that fell to only local governments in past bills.

Housing u A Mixed Bag

Public Safety--Cuts in COPS

Housing programs saw mixed results in the Omnibus package passed on November 21. For example, the HOPE VI program missed the President's chopping block and received nearly $143 million in the Omnibus bill--a minor cut of $7 million from last year's level.

The bill also allocates $4.117 billion for CDBG formula grants, a cut of roughly $360 million from last year's figures. Unfortunately, because the number of eligible cities to the program keeps increasing every year while funding, adjusted for inflation, keeps declining, there will be less CDBG money to go around in FY 2005.

The HOME Program is allocated roughly $1.9 billion in the Omnibus package. While this sum is less than last year's total, in reality, the original portion of the program has received an increase in funding. This positive funding level is attributed to the fact that the appropriators decided to keep American Dream Down-payment Initiative (ADDI) funding separate from the rest of the HOME program.

For a complete report on the treatment of Section 8 vouchers see the article on page 3.

Transportation--Level Funded

Congress essentially level-funded federal transportation programs for fiscal year 2005.

NLC helped defend successfully against cuts in Amtrak funding. Appropriators approved $1.217 billion for 2005, which is the same amount appropriated in 2004 and $300 million over the President's budget request. In exchange, the bill requires Amtrak to repay a $100 million federal loan in five yearly increments of $20 million.

The bill also retains current reforms for Amtrak including the submission of a financial plan and quarterly records to the Congress on the implementation of that plan.

Appropriators approved $34.7 billion in federal highway spending for fiscal year 2005, a $1.1 billion increase over the President's request. Appropriators also approved $7.7 billion for transit spending, including $1.45 billion for the New Starts program.

Additionally, appropriators level-funded the Airport Improvement Program at $3.5 billion and the Essential Air Program at $102 million, which allows regional airlines to serve small communities that otherwise would not have regular commercial air transportation.

Education--Modest Increases But Below Funding Targets

Overall the bill provides a $1.4 billion increase for the Department of Education, bringing it to a total for $57 billion. $10.7 billion of this amount is earmarked for IDEA grants to local school districts.

This is a $607 million increase from FY 2004, but it is well below the $1 billion increase proposed by President Bush.

Title I grants to local school districts are funded at $12.8 billion, a $500 million increase from last year. This is $500 million below the President's request and more than $7 million below the amount promised by the No Child Left Behind Act.

After-school programs will be level funded at $999 million for the fourth year in a row. Head Start received a slight increase of $124 million even though current funding levels serve only half of the 3- and 4-year-olds eligible for the anti-poverty program.
FY05 Appropriations

Bill Program 04 Funding Admin. (05)

Labor/HHS Title I Grants to $12.3 B $13.4 B
 Low-Income Schools

 IDEA $10 B $11 B

 Afterschool $999 M $999 M

 Head Start $6.7 B $6.9 B

VA/HUD/IA Section 8 19.2 B $16.9 B

 HOPE VI $149 M $0

 CDBG $4.921 B $4.618 B

 HOME Program $2.005 B $2.084 B

(EPA) Clean Water State $1.35 B $850 M
 Revolving Fund

(EPA) Drinking Water State $850 M $850 M
 Revolving Fund

CJs COPS $756 M $44 M

 Interoperable $80 M $0
 Communications

 COPS Information 158.4 M $0
 Technology

 Local Law Enforcement $225 M Merged into
 Block Grant (LLEBG) JAG Program

 Byrne Formula Grants $659.1 M Merged into
 JAG Program

 Justice Assistance N/A $508.94 M
 Grants (JAG)--combined
 LLEBG/Byrne Grant

 Weed & Seed $58.5 M $51.17 M

DHS Urban Area Security $725 M $1.45 B
 Initiative Grants

 State Homeland $1.7 B $700 M
 Security Grant Program

 Firefighter Grant $750 M $500 M
 Program

 Urban Search & Rescue $60 M $0
 Program

 Metropolitan Medical $50 M $0
 Response System
 Program

Transportation Essential Air Service $102 M $50 M
 Program (EAS)

 Federal Aviation $13.83 B $13.95 B
 Administration

 Federal Aid Highways $33.6 B $33.6 B

 Amtrak $1.218 B $900 M

 Federal Transit $7.268 B $7.266 B
 Administration

Bill Program H (05) S (05)

Labor/HHS Title I Grants to $13.4 B 11.5 B
 Low-Income Schools

 IDEA $11 B $11.16 B

 Afterschool $999 M $1 B

 Head Start $6.9 B $6.9 B

VA/HUD/IA Section 8 19.9 B 20.7 B

 HOPE VI $143 M $150 M

 CDBG $4.711 B $4.95 B

 HOME Program $1.920 B $2.05 B

(EPA) Clean Water State $850 M $1.35 B
 Revolving Fund

(EPA) Drinking Water State $850 M $850 M
 Revolving Fund

CJs COPS $686.7 M $756 M

 Interoperable $0 $100 M
 Communications

 COPS Information $130 M $111 M
 Technology

 Local Law Enforcement Merged into $150 M
 Block Grant (LLEBG) JAG Program Note: $95 M
 earmarked

 Byrne Formula Grants Merged into
 JAG Program $500 M

 Justice Assistance $634 M N/A
 Grants (JAG)--combined
 LLEBG/Byrne Grant

 Weed & Seed $51.17 M $62 M

DHS Urban Area Security $1 B $1.2 B
 Initiative Grants

 State Homeland $1.25 B $940 M
 Security Grant Program

 Firefighter Grant $600 M $700 M
 Program

 Urban Search & Rescue $0 $30 M
 Program

 Metropolitan Medical $50 M $0
 Response System
 Program

Transportation Essential Air Service $102 M $102 M
 Program (EAS)

 Federal Aviation $14 B $13.9 B
 Administration

 Federal Aid Highways $34.6 B $35.8 B

 Amtrak $900 M $1.217 B

 Federal Transit $7.249 B $7.758 B
 Administration

Bill Program Omnibus

Labor/HHS Title I Grants to $12.8 B *
 Low-Income Schools

 IDEA $10.7 B *

 Afterschool $999 M *

 Head Start 6.9 B *

VA/HUD/IA Section 8 $20.06 B *

 HOPE VI $143 M *

 CDBG $4.117 B *

 HOME Program $1.915 B *

(EPA) Clean Water State $1.092 B *
 Revolving Fund

(EPA) Drinking Water State $850 M *
 Revolving Fund

CJs COPS $606 M *

 Interoperable $100 M *
 Communications

 COPS Information $138 M *
 Technology

 Local Law Enforcement SEE JAG
 Block Grant (LLEBG) GRANTS

 Byrne Formula Grants SEE JAG
 GRANTS

 Justice Assistance $634 M *
 Grants (JAG)--combined
 LLEBG/Byrne Grant

 Weed & Seed $62 M *

DHS Urban Area Security $1.2 B
 Initiative Grants

 State Homeland $1.1 B
 Security Grant Program

 Firefighter Grant $600 M
 Program

 Urban Search & Rescue $30 M
 Program

 Metropolitan Medical $30 M
 Response System
 Program

Transportation Essential Air Service $102 M *
 Program (EAS)

 Federal Aviation $13.6 B *
 Administration

 Federal Aid Highways $34.7 B *

 Amtrak $1.217 B *

 Federal Transit $7.708 B *
 Administration

NOTE: All programs denoted by * will be subject to a 0.8 percent
across-the-board cut.

Updated Tuesday, November 23, 2004
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Article Details
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Author:McGee, Jennifer; Parkhurst, David; Heroux, Jon
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 29, 2004
Words:1665
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