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Congress Passes Spending Bill for Fiscal Year 2011
2011-04-14

Thanks to the advocacy efforts of landscape architects and allied organizations, many federal programs important to the profession were salvaged in the most recent fiscal year 2011 spending bill, H.R. 1473.  While this recent spending measure makes some reductions, ASLA is pleased that continued funding was provided for the critical programs the Society advocated for, including: the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Grants program, the Sustainable Communities Initiative, and the Community Development Block Grants.

H.R. 1473 was passed by the House of Representatives on April 14, by a vote of 260-167 the Senate is expected to follow suit.  

The following is a synopsis of current funding levels provided in the bill for certain programs important to landscape architects:

Land and Water Conservation Fund:

In February, during the House of Representatives’ initial consideration of spending cuts (H.R. 1), the House narrowly defeated an amendment to eliminate all funding for LWCF.  The House then passed H.R. 1, which included only $41 million for LWCF federal land acquisition and no funding for the stateside program, a significant reduction from the $301 million provided in 2010.

After intense pressure from grassroots organizations across the country, including ASLA members, budget negotiators have recently agreed to increase funding for the LWCF.  H.R. 1473 provides $95 million for LWCF federal land acquisition and about $40 million for the stateside program.

Now the debate shifts to the fiscal year 2012 (FY 2012) budget, where President Barack Obama has requested full funding for LWCF at $900 million.  Many policymakers believe that full funding for LWCF is appropriate because the program is already paid for through revenues from offshore oil and gas royalties.  ASLA, along with other advocates, are gearing up to urge full funding for this program that helps provide important recreational and economic opportunities for our communities.

Transportation and Community Planning Grant Programs:

Last February during consideration of H.R. 1, the House also voted to eliminate all funding for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program and the Sustainable Communities Initiative, programs which allow communities to improve regional planning efforts that integrate housing, transportation, and environmental decisions. 

Thanks to the diligent advocacy efforts of ASLA members and other organizations, funding was restored for these critical programs.  Under the new spending bill (H.R. 1473), the Sustainable Communities Initiative will receive $100 million in funding and the TIGER grant program will receive $258 million.  According to the House Appropriations Committee, the TIGER grant program has received $78 billion in applications for its current $2.1 billion budget, demonstrating the need for these community planning services far exceeds the available funding.   The committee also stated that cutting the program would have put 30,580 jobs at risk.  H.R. 1473 also provides about $10 billion for the Federal Transit Administration, representing only a slight decrease from fiscal year 2010 levels. Funding was also restored to the Community Development Block Grants programfor which the bill sets aside $3.3 billion.   With this recent funding in place, landscape architects may continue to help communities plan and implement sound infrastructure projects that will help grow our economies now and in the future. 

National Park Service:

While spending for the overall National Parks Service was only reduced by $7 million dollar, specific programs important to the profession received noticeable reductions.  In particular, spending for NPS construction projects is $210 million, $24 million less than FY 2010 levels.   Historic preservation programs received $55 million, $25 million less than FY 2010 levels. The bill prohibits the use of any funds appropriated to this account for Save America's Treasures program grants.   

Other Spending Cuts:

While many programs important to the landscape architecture were saved, other programs continued to take budget hits in this latest round of spending negotiations.   H.R. 1473 provides no funds for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Brownfields Redevelopment Program, which received $18 million in FY 2010 and significantly slashes the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean and Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund grants program budget by more than one-third to $3.7 billion from about $5 billion in fiscal year 2010.

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) shares the concerns of many about wasteful spending.  However, ASLA encourages the Congress to make sensible spending decisions like investing in our nation’s crumbling infrastructure and assisting our communities to become more vibrant and economically-sound places to live, work and recreate.  ASLA will continue to work for these types of programs during future budget debates.



contact

Karen T. Grajales
Manager, Public Relations 
tel: 1-202-216-2371
ktgrajales@asla.org
@ktgrajales

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