February 2019 Federal and State Legislative Update

The partial federal government shutdown that marked the beginning of 2019 has ended, 2019-20 state budget talks are in full gear, and Dunkirk Dave – the world’s second longest prognosticating groundhog – is predicting an early spring. For those of you who are intrigued to know more about these topics, please read on. For the rest of you, take a late winter’s nap and maybe you’ll be more interested when you wake.

2019 Federal Fiscal Year (FFY) Budget – For those of you keeping score the FFY 2019 budget deal was 4 ½ months late and followed the longest partial federal government shutdown in history – 35 days. The budget deal includes the following:

$900 million for BUILD grants (a $600 million decrease from FY 2018) that must be split evenly between rural and urban projects and must be balanced in terms of mode and geography. Grants will be between $5-25 million. No more than 10 percent of funds can go to a single state. A grant notice will be issued by April 15, 2019 and submissions must be received by July 15, 2019. U.S. DOT must announce awards by November 15, 2019. Projects must be selected using the same criteria U.S. DOT used in the FFY 2017 TIGER/BUILD grant program. The federal share is limited to 80 percent unless a waiver is granted. No more than $15 million can be used for planning, preparation, and design;

funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program remains flat at $3.3 billion;

the HOME program is funded at $1.25 billion, approximately $100 million less than FFY 2018;

the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is funded at $150 million, the same as FFY 2018;

$550 million for the rural broadband loan and grant pilot program, which is $50 million below FFY 2018, but rejects the President’s proposal to eliminate the program;

$3.82 billion for the Census Bureau, an increase of more than $1 billion above the FFY 2018 amount to enable the Bureau to effectively prepare for a the 2020 Decennial Census

$435 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is $10 million above the FFY 2018 amount and rejects the President’s proposal to eliminate the program; and

continues to fund the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund at FFY 2018 levels with a small increase to the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.

These and other budget deal items can be found at this link
Federal Issues: Farm Bill – On December 20, 2018 President Trump signed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (i.e. Farm Bill) into law. The new farm bill reauthorizes and changes key conservation, local/regional food systems, and nutrition assistance programs. Information on conservation programs can be found here, and details on local/regional food systems and nutrition assistance programs is available here.

2019-20 New York State Budget – On January 15, 2019, Governor Cuomo released the 2019-20 Executive Budget. Here’s a quick breakdown of the 2019-20 Executive Budget proposals:

Housing and Homelessness – The budget proposal continues the $20 billion affordable housing and homelessness initiative;

Infrastructure – The budget proposal supports the Governor’s new $150 billion, five-year infrastructure plan. However, the current transportation MOU agreed to by the Governor and Legislative leaders extends through the end of the 2019-20 fiscal year. It is likely that a new 5-year MOU will be agreed to by the Governor and Legislative leaders in the coming months;

Regional Economic Development– The budget proposal includes $905 million in core capital and tax-credit funding that will be combined with a wide range of existing agency programs for a ninth round of REDC awards;

Protecting the Environment – The budget proposal continues funding the $2.5 billion clean water infrastructure investments, sets forth $300 million in funding for the Environmental Protection Fund, and invests an additional $110 million in the NY Parks 2020 initiative.

Mark Castiglione, President of the New York Upstate APA Chapter, recently sent a letter to Governor Cuomo highlighting key policy issues for our Chapter in these topic areas and offering the expertise of our membership on these issues going forward. The letter can be accessed here.

The Governor and State Comptroller have issued warnings about state revenue shortfalls and uncertainties in the upcoming fiscal year as the State Legislature prepares to publish its economic/revenue forecast and take up joint budget bills according to the following schedule:

February 28 (on or before) – Senate and Assembly Economic/Revenue Forecast Released

February 28 – Joint Revenue Forecasting Conference

March 1 (on or before) – Consensus Revenue Forecast Report

March 13 – Senate and Assembly One House Budget Actions and Conference Committees Commence

March 25 – Joint Conference Committees End

March 26 through 29 – Joint Legislative Budget Bills Taken Up by Senate and Assembly

April 1 – 2019-20 SFY Begins