More on the President's Budget: Washington Update

For those of you brave enough to dig into the numbers, the latest edition of the Washington Update from Smart Growth America details the President’s budget for smart-growth related programs in HUD, EPA, and DOT. If you want to know more about the details of policy and would like to receive the Washington Update newsletter regularly via email, you can sign up for it (and others) here via the SGA website.

Administration Announces Recipients of High-Speed Rail Grants

The Obama Administration recently announced the recipients of $8 billion in high-speed rail grants. The funding was divided among 31 states and the District of Columbia, with the majority of the grants going to new, large-scale programs. Grants were made for railways in thirteen major corridors and for planning and studies in another eleven.

Applicants for the $8 billion in high-speed rail funding that was made available by last year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) submitted more than $55 billion in project proposals. Announcement of the recipients of these initial grants is only a first step for the high-speed intercity passenger rail program. The program has been made a centerpiece of the Obama Administration, which has pledged an additional $5 billion over the next five years, including $2.5 billion in the FY 2010 budget and a request for $1 billion in FY 2011.

At a February 3 hearing before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that additional money will be made available very soon for studies of future projects.

Senate Expected to Move Initial Jobs Bill This Month

Senate leaders have signaled their intent to move a jobs bill this month that would include an extension of the current surface transportation authorization, a business hiring tax credit, and short-term extensions of various programs designed to ease the burden on those out of work, including unemployment insurance and health care subsidies for the unemployed. The bill is also likely to include an injection of funds to shore up the Highway Trust Fund, but it does not appear to include any other significant funding for transportation. The Senate plans to move their jobs package in pieces, including a separate infrastructure piece with funding for highways, transit, airports, schools and waste water infrastructure. An initial vote on the first jobs bill is expected the week of February 22nd, as the Senate recess extends through next week. Smart Growth America and Transportation for America continue to push in the jobs bill for additional public transportation funding and operating flexibility to provide relief to strapped transit systems.

In December, the House approved a $154 billion jobs package, which included tax breaks, infrastructure spending and unemployment benefits. The Jobs for Main Street Act of 2010 was approved in the House by a close vote of 217-212, but the White House has not given its support and the Senate has chosen not to take up that bill. The House bill would provide $37.3 billion for transportation programs, including $27.5 billion for highways and $8.4 billion for transit. Similar to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the jobs bill provides 100% federal match for funding, 3% set-aside for Transportation Enhancements, and allows for sub-allocation to metropolitan areas. There is also flexibility for transit funding to be used for operating expenses. In addition to funding, the legislation incorporates the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2009, which extends SAFETEA-LU through September 30, 2010. This would provide surface transportation programs with $53.3 billion, which was the level assumed in the FY 2010 budget resolution. Approximately $19.5 billion in interest payments to the Highway Trust Fund would also be restored by the legislation.

HUD Announces Advanced Notice of Sustainability Grants

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has issued an Advanced Notice of their intention to offer funding through the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Program. In the FY 2010 budget, Congress provided $150 million to HUD for the Sustainable Communities initiative, $100 million of which will be made available for regional integrated planning initiatives. The grant program is designed to support multi-jurisdictional regional planning efforts that integrate housing, economic development, and transportation decision-making through the preparation and implementation of Regional Plans for Sustainable Development. At least $25 million in funding will go to rural areas, but no single grant will be for more than $2 million. Funding for large metropolitan areas is limited to $5 million per grant.

Comments on the Sustainable Communities Planning Grant Program will be accepted until March 12, 2010. Smart Growth America will submit comments on behalf of our coalition; please contact us with any feedback on the proposed grant program. The Notice of Funding Availability will be published the week of April 12 and applications for funding will be due around the first week of June. Grant recipients are expected to be announced in early August. For more information and to submit comments, visit

President Obama Releases FY 2011 Budget Request

On Monday, February 1, the Obama Administration released its FY 2011 budget proposal. The budget contains a previously promised overall freeze in discretionary domestic spending. However, within the context of the overall freeze, there are several new programs and increases for selected priorities. Sustainable and livable community programs fared well in budget and clearly constitute a priority for the Administration. In total, sustainability-focused programs received $1.5 billion in funding. Additionally, the budget calls for several new infrastructure investment programs. More than $6 billion is requested for these new infrastructure programs with the majority of the funding in a $4 billion National Infrastructure Innovation and Finance Fund at the Department of Transportation.

Smart Growth America released a statement in support of the FY 2011 budget proposal and will work to ensure that Congress maintains funding in its appropriations process for the livability programs detailed below.

The budget proposal links to several current or pending legislative proposals. The budget anticipates introduction of the authorization for the Choice Neighborhoods program, a new HUD place-based community initiative. Administration officials indicated that they are looking at the Livable Communities Act as the blueprint for implementation of the sustainability program. And, the DOT budget assumes a one-year extension of the current surface transportation bill, SAFETEA-LU. Congress has already begun hearings on the budget and will work throughout February on adopting a budget resolution that will set spending parameters for appropriators. Leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have signaled general support for holding overall domestic spending to FY10 levels but also suggested that the committees would likely make a variety of changes to individual programs.

HUD FY 2011 Budget Request Includes Strong Focus on Sustainability

The President requested $41.6 billion in discretionary funding for the FY 2011 HUD budget, which is down approximately 2% from the Administration’s FY 2010 request of $43.6 billion. Included in the HUD budget was a strong focus on sustainable communities with an extension of the $150 sustainability program from FY10, the creation of a new $150 million Catalytic grant program within the  Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, and expansion of the Choice Neighborhoods program to $250 million.

The FY 2011 goals differ from those for the FY 2010 budget. In FY 2010, the aim of the department was to fully fund programs that had been neglected in the past Administration, create new programs to match the current housing environment, stop the crisis within the housing market and help families hit hardest by the recession. The Administration feels its 2010 budget was successful in many areas and is now transitioning to longer term goals. The budget reflects a goal of “rebalancing” HUD’s focus by placing greater emphasis on rental housing assistance, place-based initiatives to integrate programs at the Department of Transportation and the U.S. EPA with HUD programs for better regional planning, and creating affordable housing for people still struggling with the economy.

Major cuts in the budget reflect this new goal of focusing efforts on affordable rental development and assistance; the Public Housing Capital Fund lost $456 billion in funding and HOME Investment Partnerships Program lost $150 million. In general, capital funds were cut to support increases for rental assistance. New programs, such as the Transforming Rental Assistance program and the Catalytic Investment Fund focus on improved access to rental housing and improved neighborhoods. A major focus of the HUD budget is the Community Development Block Grant program, which the President has made a goal of fully funding.

Program FY2009 ARRA
FY2010 FY2011 +/- (’10 and ’11)
Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) $3.9 billion $1 billion $4.45 billion $4.4 billion -$50 million
Sustainable Communities Initiative $150 million $150 million $0
Rural Innovation $25 million $0 -$25 million
University Community Fund
$25 million $25 million $0
Catalytic Investment Competition Grants
$150 million NEW
Energy Innovation Fund $50 million $0 -$50 million
HOPE VI $120 million $200 million $0 -$200 million
Choice Neighborhoods (replaces HOPE VI) $65 million $250 million +$185 million
BEDI $10 million $0 $17.5 million $0 -$17.5 million
HOME $1.8 billion $2.25 billion $1.8 billion $1.65 billion -$150 million
Neighborhood Stabilization $2 billion $0 $0 $0
Total Tenant-Based Rental Assistance $16 billion $2 billion $18.184 billion $19.551 billion +$1.367 billion
Public Housing Capital Fund $2.45 billion $4 billion $2.5 billion $2.044 billion -$456 million
Public Housing Operating Fund $4.45 billion $4.775 billion $4.829 billion +$54 million
Affordable Housing Trust Fund $0 $1 billion +$1 billion
Policy Development & Research $58 million $48 million $87 million +$39 million
Section 8 Tenant Based Vouchers $17 billion $18.2 billion $19.55 billion +$1.35 billion
Section 8 Project Based Vouchers $7.1 billion $8.5 billion $9.286 billion +$786 million
Transforming Rental Assistance $350 million NEW

DOT FY 2011 Request Places New Emphasis on Livability, Safety and Place-Based Development

The Department of Transportation requests a total of $78.8 billion for FY 2011, which is a slight increase over the $77 billion requested last year. Many DOT programs have been restructured to reflect the Administration’s new emphasis on “transportation safety, livable communities and place-based development.” In FY 2011, funding for both highways and transit would increase slightly to $42.8 billion and $10.8 billion, respectively. Amtrak funding would increase by $50 million, from $1.565 billion to $1.615 billion. The Administration requests $1 billion for high-speed rail, in line with their promise to provide $5 billion for the program over five years, in addition to the $8 billion included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). HSR received $2.5 billion in the FY10 appropriations bill.

The budget proposal includes a request for $527 million to fund its Livable Communities Program. As part of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities Initiative, this funding will be combined with $150 million in planning grants from HUD and $10 million for technical assistance from EPA. The DOT funding will come from three separate locations: $307 million in transit funding to increase the planning and project development capabilities, $200 million in highway funding for a competitive livability grant program and $20 million to establish an Office of Livable Communities in the Office of the Secretary.

A major new program in FY 2011 is the National Infrastructure Innovation and Finance Fund, established to provide both grants and loans for multi-modal projects of regional or national significance. The budget includes a $4 billion request as a down payment on a $25 billion commitment to the fund. Funding will also be available to support the planning and feasibility studies necessary to identify potential projects ($150 million). This program is a departure from the traditional way of funding projects at DOT, and is modeled generally on the multimodal discretionary grants including in the ARRA. These grants, known as the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) Program, did not receive any funding for FY 2011, but an additional $600 million in TIGER grants is available for FY10.

Program FY2009 ARRA
FY2010 FY2011 +/- (’10 and ’11)
Highways $39.7 billion $27.5 billion $43.1 billion $42.8 billion -$300 million
Livable Communities
$200 million NEW
Amtrak $1.49 billion $1.3 billion $1.6 billion $1.6 billion $0
High Speed Rail
$8 billion $2.5 billion $1 billion -$1.5 billion
$10.2 billion $8.4 billion $10.7 billion $10.8 billion +$100 million
Capital Investment Grants $1.8 billion $750 million $1.99 billion $1.82 billion -$170 million
Transit Formula Grants $8.26 billion $6.9 billion $8.34 billion $8.63 billion +$290 million
Livable Communities $307 million NEW
TIGER/Multi-modal discretionary $1.5 billion $600 million $0 -$600 million
Urbanized Area Programs $3.7 billion $5.3 billion $6 billion +$700 million
Non-Urbanized Area Programs $695 million
Transit in Parks $27 million TBD $27.4 million TBD
Fixed Guideway Modernization $1.4 billion $750 million $1.7 billion $515 million -$1.18 billion
Research & Innovation Technology Admin $13 million $13.2 million $17 million +$3.8 million
NHTSA $127 million $143 million $136 million -$7 million
Federal Transit Safety Program $30 million NEW
National Infrastructure Innovation and Finance Fund $4 billion NEW
DOT Office of Livable Communities $20 million NEW

EPA Budget Proposal Includes Request for Several New Programs

The Administration proposed $10 billion in discretionary funding for EPA in FY 2011. The proposed EPA budget reflects the Administration’s priorities including their interest in promoting sustainable and healthy communities. The Administration included $215 million for brownfields funding to accelerate and expand brownfields cleanup with integrated area-wide planning and environmental remediation activities. This $41.5 million increase from FY 2010 is aimed at the Administration’s priority to initiate 20 enhanced brownfields community-level projects that will include a new area-wide planning effort to benefit under-served and economically disadvantaged communities. Although funding for both the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (SRFs) is less than in FY 2010, at $3.3 billion total, it still remains substantially higher than previous years demonstrating a continued Federal commitment to water infrastructure.

The FY 2011 request also includes $27 million in funding for EPA’s new Healthy Communities Initiative. This is initiative will address community water priorities; promote clean, green, and healthy schools; improve air toxics monitoring in at-risk communities; and encourage sustainability by helping to ensure that policies and spending at the national level do not adversely affect the environment and public health or disproportionally harm disadvantaged communities. Included in this funding is $10.9 million for the Partnership for Sustainable Communities with DOT and HUD. It appears that the Smart Growth Office at EPA will have a significant role in the Sustainable Communities program. However, as in years past, it remains unclear how much funding has been included specifically for the Smart Growth office through the Environmental Program & Management (EPM) budget and the Sustainable Communities funding. We have submitted a request for further clarification from the Administration.

Program FY2009 ARRA
FY2010 FY2011 +/- (’10 and ’11)
Brownfields Programs $169.1 million $100 million $173.6 million $215 million +$41.4 million
Brownfields Projects (STAG)
$97 million $100 million $100 million $138 million +$38 million
Sec. 128 (Brownfields Grants) $49.5 million $49.5 million $49.5 million $0 million
Brownfields EPM
$23.7 million $24.1 million $27.3 million +$3.2 million
Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund
$689 million $4 billion $2.1 billion $2 billion -$100 million
Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund $829 million $2 billion $1.38 billion $1.28 billion -$100 million
Environmental Program & Management (EPM) $2.4 billion $2.99 billion $2.89 billion -$100 million
GHG Emissions Inventory $6.4 million $17 million $21 million +$4 million
CAA Greenhouse Gas Permitting $30 million NEW
GHG Standards for Transportation Sources $6 million NEW
State and Local Air Quality Grant $224 million $226.5 million $309 million +$82.5 million
Nonpoint Source Sec 319 Water Grants $200 million $200 million $200.9 million +$900,000
CWA Sec. 106 Grants $218 million $229 million $274 million +$45 million
Superfund $1.2 billion $600 million $1.306 billion $1.293 billion -$13.4 million
Healthy Communities Initiative $27 million NEW
Community Water Priorities Program $9.5 million NEW
Clean, Green, and Healthy Schools $6.3 million NEW
Sustainable Communities $5.7 million $10.9 million +$5.2 million
Air Toxics $6 million NEW