Budget Briefs

2015

Passage of Homeland Security Spending Bill Completes FY 2015 Budget

Budget Brief 15-04
March 4, 2015

Summary 

While all other fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations were finalized through an omnibus spending bill last December, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was funded by a continuing resolution (CR) through February 27, 2015, because of objections to the president’s recent executive order on immigration. The House initially passed the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2015 (H.R. 240) in mid-January, with a controversial provision that blocked DHS from carrying out the president’s immigration policy. The Senate passed an amended version that excluded the policy rider. To prevent a DHS shutdown, Congress approved another CR through March 6, 2015. On March 3, the House approved the “clean” bill, sending it to the president for signature. The bill level-funds most state and local programs under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at $1.5 billion.

Coincidence? FY 2016 Budget Released on Groundhog Day

Budget Brief 15-01
February 13, 2015

Summary 

The president’s proposed budget for fiscal year (FY) 2016 was released on February 2, 2015. Apropos of its Groundhog Day release, the document repeats many recommendations from previous budgets, including new grant set-asides, the expanded use of competitive grants, program expansions, new bonding programs, and a host of tax increases and decreases.

While the budget purports to retain the spending caps established in the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), it exceeds BCA post-sequestration spending levels. In addition, it proposes to eliminate sequestration of mandatory programs. That said, its tax cuts and spending increases are fully offset by tax increases and other savings. Overall, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget reports that the budget would provide $930 billion in additional deficit reduction over the next 10 years, compared to current law.

Table 1 at the end of this Budget Brief summarizes proposed funding levels for major state and local grant programs. The table shows that funding would increase 13.1% for the discretionary programs listed, 9.7% for mandatory programs, and 10.7% overall. Much of the discretionary increase is attributable to large proposed increases in transportation funding.

The follows sections focus on policy proposals beyond the changes in funding that are listed in Table 1.

2014

President Signs FY 2015 Omnibus, Budget Almost Complete

Budget Brief 14-05
December 18, 2014

Summary 

On December 16, 2014, the president signed the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015 (H.R. 83), completing the budget process for fiscal year (FY) 2015 for most federal departments. The omnibus includes all appropriations bills, except the one for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). That department is covered by a short-term continuing resolution (CR) that expires February 27, 2015. The funding levels in the 11 appropriations bills are in effect for the entire fiscal year and replace the annualized funding levels set in the previous CR. In addition, the omnibus provides emergency funding for responding to the Ebola crisis, and extends Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Internet tax moratorium through FY 2015.

This Budget Brief describes the funding and policy provisions in the omnibus relevant to states. Table 1 includes FY 2015 funding levels for major grant programs. Compared to FY 2014, states will see a 0.2% increase in these major discretionary programs. Mandatory programs are estimated to increase 9.3%, largely driven by projected growth in Medicaid. A few mandatory programs listed on the table are subject to FY 2015 sequestration of nonexempt mandatory programs.

Overall, the omnibus includes $1.013 trillion in discretionary funding, roughly equal to the FY 2015 discretionary spending cap specified in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (BBA; P.L. 113-67). The table on the next page compares FY 2015 funding levels provided to each appropriations subcommittee—known as 302(b) allocations—to prior years.

President Signs Short-Term CR for FY 2015

Budget Brief 14-04
September 23, 2014

Summary 

On September 19, 2014, the president signed a Continuing Resolution (CR, H.J. Res. 124) for fiscal year (FY) 2015 that keeps the federal government running until December 11, 2014. Discretionary spending levels in the CR are set at an annualized level of $1.012 trillion. This equals the FY 2014 discretionary spending level specified in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (BBA; P.L. 113-67), and is -$1.392 billion less than the BBA allows for FY 2015. Within the total, nondefense discretionary spending in the CR exceeds the FY 2015 cap set in the BBA by about $2 billion; lower defense discretionary spending more than offsets that amount, as shown below. To achieve the FY 2014 BBA spending level while providing new funding for targeted programs, the CR applies a -0.0554% across-the-board (ATB) rescission to most discretionary programs.

In addition to providing funding for current programs, the CR includes certain program flexibilities, as well as a few policy provisions. For example, it provides funds for responding to the Ebola crisis, allocates additional funds for the Commodity Assistance Program, and extends Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Export-Import Bank, and the Internet Tax Freedom Act. These provisions and others are described more fully in this brief.

 

FY 2015 Appropriations: House Action Continues, Senate Progress Stalled

Budget Brief 14-03
July 11, 2014

Summary 


The fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations process was off to an encouraging start when both the House and Senate announced a few months ago that they would abide by the FY 2015 discretionary spending caps included in the Bipartisan Budget Act (BBA, P.L. 113-67). Since that time, there has been movement on several FY 2015 spending bills as shown on the table below. Six bills have passed the House, and most have been marked up by the House Appropriations Committee, with the exceptions of Interior-Environment and Labor-Health and Human Services (HHS)-Education. The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved seven bills. However, progress stalled when the full Senate was unable to move its first three bills (Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development [HUD]) as part of a minibus spending package because of disagreement over the amendment process.

This Budget Brief describes the funding and policy provisions included in appropriations bills relevant to states. Table 1 provides recommended funding levels for major grant programs based on the latest House and Senate actions. Legislative text is not available for Senate bills that have been approved only at the subcommittee level. 

 

President’s FY 2015 Budget: A Recycling Program

Budget Brief 14-02
March 13, 2014

Summary 

On March 4, 2014, the president released portions of his fiscal year (FY) 2015 budget proposal, about one month after the statutory deadline; remaining documents were released on March 10. The president’s budget retains the FY 2015 discretionary spending caps included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 (BBA), but it also includes a separate proposal that would increase FY 2015 spending by $56 billion. Importantly, the president’s budget proposes to eliminate sequestration of mandatory programs that is part of the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). Such sequestration would reduce affected programs by -7.3% in FY 2015.

The budget recycles themes and specific requests from earlier budget submissions, including proposals to consolidate grant programs, replace formula grant programs—or a portion thereof—with competitive grants, and implement new competitive grant programs. It also proposes to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and index it to inflation.

Overall, the FY 2015 budget would provide a 6.7% funding increase for the major discretionary programs reported by FFIS on Table 1. The mandatory programs are estimated to increase 9.1% in FY 2015. Combined funding for discretionary plus mandatory grant programs would increase 8.4% under the budget.

Significant FY 2015 budget proposals are described in the following sections.

Omnibus Bill Completes FY 2014 Budget

Budget Brief 14-01
January 24, 2014

Summary 


On January 17, 2014, the president signed the fiscal year (FY) 2014 omnibus appropriations spending package (H.R. 3547), completing the budget process for FY 2014. The omnibus includes all 12 appropriations bills and sets overall discretionary spending at $1.012 trillion. The funding levels in the bill are in effect for the entire fiscal year and replace the annualized funding levels set in the previous continuing resolution (CR). Moreover, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) scored the legislation as exactly matching the defense and nondefense discretionary caps set by the Bipartisan Budget Act (H.J.Res. 59) in December 2013. 

This Budget Brief describes the funding and policy provisions in the omnibus relevant to states. Table 1 includes FY 2014 funding levels for major grant programs. Compared to FY 2013, states will see a 4.5% increase in these major discretionary programs. Mandatory programs are estimated to increase 11.5%, largely driven by projected growth in Medicaid. A few mandatory programs listed on the table are subject to FY 2014 sequestration of nonexempt mandatory programs, as explained below.