Product News by Topos, Lumion, ANOVA, and Santa Barbara Designs

Product News by Topos, Lumion, ANOVA, and Santa Barbara Designs

5/16/2017

2017 Federal Spending Approved with Many Successes for Landscape Architects

Late last week, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law a $1.1 trillion omnibus spending package that will fund the federal government and its programs for fiscal year FY 2017, through September 30, 2017. The measure also provides $30 billion in supplemental defense funds requested by the president in March, and $1.5 billion in additional funds for border security, but does not include funds for the president’s proposal to build a wall on the border with Mexico.

With the March release of the administration’s FY 2018 “skinny budget” that recommended severe cuts to or elimination of many discretionary programs, stakeholders were concerned that these recommendations would spill over into the still ongoing 2017 budget negotiations. On the contrary, overall the 2017 spending bill includes level or increased funding for many federal programs, including key programs important to landscape architects. The Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants program received $500 million, and the Clean and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund programs received about $2.2 billion – equal to 2016 funding levels. Funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was slightly reduced from $450 million to $400 million.

Other key points in the spending bill include $8.2 billion in disaster and emergency spending to fight wildfires, flooding, and other extreme weather events in states like North Carolina, California, Louisiana, West Virginia, and others. The measure also includes full funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s clean air and climate activities, but eliminates all funding for the State Department’s Green Climate Fund, a United Nations-sponsored organization to help developing countries afford low carbon energy sources and prepare for environmental changes like sea level rise.

Now that the 2017 spending bill is finally in place, Congress will begin work to complete the FY 2018 spending package. ASLA and other stakeholders must remain vigilant in protecting funding for discretionary programs, as deep cuts are expected for the next fiscal year. ASLA urges all its members to use the iAdvocate Network to take action on a number of issues that will be affected by 2018 budget negotiations, including TIGER, LWCF, Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the Chesapeake Bay Program, and more.

Below is a breakdown of fiscal year 2017 funding for key programs important to landscape architects:

U.S. Department of Transportation:
• TIGER grants program – $500 million for the Transportation Infrastructure Generating Economic Recovery grants program that funds multimodal transportation projects. This amount is equal to FY 2016 levels.

• Transit – $124 billion for the Federal Transit Administration for various formula and bus grant programs, including capital investment grants, New Starts, and Small Starts programs.

Note: Under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, active transportation programs like the Transportation Alternatives Program, Safe Routes to School, and the Recreational Trails Program were consolidated under the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program, which is a formula-based program. Therefore, specific line item appropriations are not provided for these programs.

Department of Housing and Urban Development:
• Community Development Block Grants – $3 billion for CDBG, which is equal to FY 2016 levels

• Choice Neighborhoods Initiative – $138 million for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, whose goal is to transform impoverished neighborhoods into sustainable, mixed-income neighborhoods. This amount represents a $13 million increase over FY 2016 funding.

Department of Interior
• Land and Water Conservation Fund – $400 million for LWCF programs, which funds local park projects and federal land acquisition. This amount is $50 million less than FY 2016.

• National Park Service – $2.9 billion for NPS activities, which is a 3 percent ($81 million) increase over FY 2016 levels.

• Centennial Challenge Fund – $20 million to fund joint private-public infrastructure investments in honor of the NPS’s centennial anniversary, 33 percent more than FY 2016.

• Bureau of Land Management – $1.3 billion for BLM activities, $16 million more than FY 2016.

• U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – $1.5 billion, $11 million more than FY 2016.

• Wildfire Management – $4.2 billion for the combined Interior Department and U.S. Forest Service firefighting budget to combat wildfires on public lands. This amount is $92 million more than FY 2016.

Environmental Protection Agency
• State Water Revolving Fund grants – the measure provides $1.4 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and $863 million for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. Both program’s funding is equal to FY 2016 amounts.

• Brownfields: $80 million – equal to FY 2016 - for brownfields revitalization, including grants for assessment, cleanup, and revolving loans.

• Great Lakes Restoration Initiative – $300 million, which is equal to the FY 2016 amount.

• Chesapeake Bay Program – $73 million, which is equal to the FY 2016 amount.

• Clean Air and Climate Activities – $273 million, including $95 million for EPA’s climate protection program—all amounts are equal to current level funding.

Other Agencies:
• U.S. Department of Agriculture – $1 billion—equal to FY 2016—for administering and operating the department’s conservation programs, including funding for the watershed rehabilitation program, watershed flood, and prevention operations.

• Army Corps of Engineers – $6 billion—$49 million more than FY 2016—for the Army Corps of Engineers to address its core responsibilities of civil flood control, navigation, and ecosystem restoration projects.

• National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – $5.7 billion for NOAA, which includes $980 million for National Weather Service Operations and full funding for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R program.

• Science-related Agencies – $27.1 billion for science-related agencies, including NASA’s Climate Science Monitoring projects, and funding for the National Science Foundation. This total represents a $377 million increase over FY 2016, and $1.3 billion increase over former President Obama’s fiscal year 2017 request.

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