Issue Briefs

2016

ApprenticeshipUSA Accelerator Grants Available

Issue Brief 16-22
April 27, 2016

Summary 

On April 21, the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) published Training and Employment Guidance Letter 19-15, announcing the availability of $9.5 million in ApprenticeshipUSA Accelerator grants. These non-competitive grants are available immediately to any state or territory that commits to furthering plans for expanding registered apprenticeships. ETA encourages states to apply by April 30, 2016, but the official deadline is May 15, 2016. The grants are provided in advance of $51.5 million in ApprenticeshipUSA competitive grants that ETA plans to distribute later this year.

This Issue Brief provides further detail, and a timeline of key dates for both grant programs.

SSBG Targeted for Elimination

Issue Brief 16-21
April 25, 2016

Summary 

In March, the House Ways and Means Committee approved the Reducing Duplicative and Ineffective Federal Spending Act (H.R. 4724), which would eliminate the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG). SSBG—funded at $1.6 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2016—is one of the few flexible funding sources that help states provide a wide range of services to children and adults in need.

Workforce Allotments Announced; FFIS Updates Governor's Set-Aside Amounts

Issue Brief 16-20
April 21, 2016

Summary 

On April 5, the Department of Labor published program year (PY) 2016 allotments for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Adult, Dislocated Worker, and Youth Activities programs, as well as for the Wagner-Peyser Employment Service and Workforce Information Grants programs. Total funding for the five programs increased almost 3% compared to the prior year, although 21 states saw a decline in funding.

This Issue Brief provides a breakdown and summary of the allotments, and uses them to update FFIS estimates of the WIOA governor’s set-aside amounts for PY 2016.

FFIS Projects Significant Increases in Medicare Clawback in 2017

Issue Brief 16-19
April 7, 2016

Summary 

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the parameters that will guide calendar year (CY) 2017 individual and state costs for the Medicare Part D drug benefit. CMS projects a 6.99% annual percentage increase in per capita Part D expenditures. After accounting for prior-year revisions, the annual percentage increase is 11.75%. This marks the second consecutive year of double-digit increases. Prior to this, the Part D program benefited from a slowdown in prescription drug costs, particularly as major specialty medications lost their patent protection. With the availability of new specialty drugs—such as Hepatitis C drugs—growth in prescription drug utilization, and rising drug prices overall, this trend is reversing.

The release of the annual percentage increase, enrollment data for persons dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, and FFIS projections of Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAPs) for federal fiscal year (FY) 2018, allow for preliminary estimates of state clawback costs for CY 2017. Based on the projections, CY 2017 clawbacks are estimated to cost states $10.9 billion, $1.1 billion more than CY 2016.

HHS Releases Second Round of LIHEAP Funds

Issue Brief 16-18
April 6, 2016

Summary 

On April 1, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF) released $335.5 million in fiscal year (FY) 2016 Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) block grant funds. States received an initial release of $3.018 billion in October 2015. With this second notice, ACF has released $3.353 billion of the $3.390 billion appropriated for the program in FY 2016. At this time, ACF is holding back the remaining funds (1%), pending final budget decisions.

House Advances OAA Reauthorization

Issue Brief 16-17
April 1, 2016

Summary 

On March 21, the House passed an amended version of the Older Americans Act (OAA) reauthorization (S. 192), which was approved by the Senate last summer. The House bill is almost identical to the Senate version. It maintains the Senate’s modification to the hold-harmless provision used to allocate funds for most programs under Title III (grants to states). This change would result in no state receiving less than 99% of its prior-year allotment (instead of an amount equal to its fiscal year [FY] 2006 allotment). It also expands the list of allowable activities for certain programs, and strengthens the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program.

Issue Brief 15-28 provides details on the Senate-passed bill. This brief focuses on differences between the House and Senate versions, including the period of authorization, authorized funding levels, and modifications to the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP). 

Senate Passes Opioid Addiction Treatment Bill

Issue Brief 16-16
March 30, 2016

Summary 

On March 10, 2016, the Senate passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA, S. 524). CARA creates a number of grant programs—administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ)—to address prescription drug and heroin abuse, with a focus on expanding drug treatment and recovery programs. For most programs, the bill authorizes funding to be appropriated through the annual budget process for fiscal year (FY) 2016 through FY 2020. However, a few programs may be funded through existing appropriations or unobligated balances. This Issue Brief provides an inventory of the programs included in the bill and highlights other provisions.

USDA Announces Secure Rural Schools Payments for FY 2015

Issue Brief 16-15
March 28, 2016

Summary 

On March 18, 2016, the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service released payments for the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program for fiscal year (FY) 2015. These payments are awarded to rural counties for building schools and maintaining infrastructure. SRS payments for FY 2015—the last year of the program’s current authorization—total $272 million, a -4% change from FY 2014. This Issue Brief provides a summary of the FY 2015 payments.

FY 2018 FMAP Projections

Issue Brief 16-14
March 25, 2016

Summary 

On March 24, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released preliminary state personal income and per capita personal income data for 2015. The federal government uses state per capita personal income to calculate each state’s reimbursement rate for Medicaid and other grant programs such as Title IV-E adoption assistance and foster care. This matching rate, calculated annually, is known as the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP). The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) uses an enhanced FMAP, which is higher than the Medicaid matching rate.

The BEA release of 2015 preliminary data facilitates projections of fiscal year (FY) 2018 FMAPs and enhanced FMAPs, which are based on per capita personal incomes for calendar years 2013-2015.

This Issue Brief summarizes the BEA data and provides FFIS’s estimates of the preliminary FY 2018 FMAPs and enhanced FMAPs. FFIS projects that FMAPs will increase in 24 states and decline in 13 states.  However, these projections are based on preliminary data, and adjustments in the final estimates can have a large impact on final FMAPs. 

FHWA Implements Unspent Earmark Provision

Issue Brief 16-13
March 16, 2016

Summary 

On March 8, 2016, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published a memorandum implementing provisions of the fiscal year (FY) 2016 omnibus appropriations bill that allow states and territories to repurpose unspent, 10-year-old earmarks on new or existing projects. States and territories are restricted to spending most funds within 50 miles of the projects for which they were originally intended, and must obligate funds by the end of FY 2019.

FHWA also published a list of earmarks that are available to be repurposed (and information on other earmarks that may be eligible), and a set of Frequently Asked Questions. This Issue Brief summarizes the agency guidance and provides a state-level breakdown of available funding.

FHWA Publishes National Highway Freight Program Implementation Guidance

Issue Brief 16-12
March 10, 2016

Summary 

On February 29, 2016, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published implementation guidance for the National Highway Freight Program (NHFP). The guidance allows states to begin drawing on $1.14 billion in FY 2016 NHFP apportionments. It also provides details on project eligibility, federal share limitations, transferability of funds, performance management, and planning requirements. This Issue Brief provides background on the NHFP and summarizes the guidance.

DOT Soliciting Applications for FASTLANE Grants

Issue Brief 16-11
March 4, 2016

Summary 

On February 26, 2016, the Department of Transportation (DOT) announced that it is soliciting applications for the Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) grant program, a competitive program authorized by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. DOT will award $800 million in fiscal year (FY) 2016 for projects of national or regional significance that address major issues facing the nation’s freight transportation system. This Issue Brief provides details on the program and the application timeline.

HHS Publishes Final Rule for TANF EBT Transactions

Issue Brief 16-10
March 2, 2016

Summary 

On January 15, 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF) published the final rule to implement the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) provisions included in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 (P.L. 112-96). Specifically, P.L. 112-96 required states to adopt policies and practices to prevent TANF-funded assistance from being used in any electronic benefit transfer (EBT) transaction in liquor stores, casinos, or adult-entertainment establishments.

Although the final rule took effect on the date it was published, P.L. 112-96 required states to be in compliance by February 22, 2014. All states submitted the initial reports by this deadline. This final rule focuses on ongoing state requirements and annual reporting.

CMS Releases FY 2015 Medicaid DSH Ceilings

Issue Brief 16-09
February 26, 2016

Summary 

On February 2, 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a notice in the Federal Register that provides preliminary fiscal year (FY) 2015 disproportionate share hospital (DSH) allotments, and final FY 2013 allotments. The release includes separate limits for DSH payments to institutions for mental disease (IMDs) and other mental health facilities.

Overall, the preliminary FY 2015 DSH allotments are $240 million (2.1%) more than FY 2014. Initially, states were expected to see significant reductions in DSH payments under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) beginning in FY 2014. However, these cuts have been delayed multiple times, most recently until FY 2018.

ACL Proposes Formula Changes to Developmental Disabilities Programs

Issue Brief 16-08
February 25, 2016

Summary 

On February 18, 2016, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) published a notice in the Federal Register seeking comments on a new formula for two grant programs: State Councils on Developmental Disabilities, and Protection and Advocacy Systems. According to ACL, it is proposing changes because the current formula relies on outdated information and undercounts the population of individuals with disabilities. The new formula would take effect in fiscal year (FY) 2017.

DHS Announces FY 2016 Preparedness Grants

Issue Brief 16-07
February 19, 2016

Summary 

On February 16, 2016, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its fiscal year (FY) 2016 preparedness funding opportunity announcement for the following programs:

  • Homeland Security Grant Program (HSGP), including:
    • State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP)
    • Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI)
    • Operation Stonegarden
  • Tribal Homeland Security Grant Program (THSGP)
  • Nonprofit Security Grant Program
  • Intercity Passenger Rail Program (Amtrak)
  • Intercity Bus Security Grant Program (IBSGP)
  • Port Security Grant Program (PSGP)
  • Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP)
  • Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG)

FY 2016 funding levels for the programs listed above total $1.6 billion, the same as the total in FY 2015. Fifty-state allocations were provided for two programs: SHSGP and EMPG. Local allocations were released for UASI.

Senate Committee Approves Child Nutrition Bill

Issue Brief 16-06
February 5, 2016

Summary 

On January 20, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry approved the Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act, (ICNIAA). The bipartisan, comprehensive child nutrition bill would provide greater flexibility to states and service providers, delay or modify recent changes to school meal nutrition standards, and increase the accessibility of most programs. The bill would also reauthorize through fiscal year (FY) 2020 those programs that require periodic extensions (most nutrition programs are permanently authorized), and maintain the current rate at which states are reimbursed for providing school meals.

FEMA Eyes Disaster Deductible

Issue Brief 16-05
January 29, 2016

Summary 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking in the January 20, 2016, Federal Register. This proposal would establish a disaster deductible for recipients of assistance under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program. It comes in response to a recommendation by the Government Accountability Office and the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Homeland Security to substantially increase the threshold for disaster declarations, a move that could make it difficult for some states—especially large ones—to receive a disaster declaration for anything short of a catastrophic event. Comments on the proposed rule must be received by March 21, 2016.

WIOA Set-Aside Restored to 15% in PY 2016

Issue Brief 16-04
January 25, 2016

Summary 

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) allows governors to set aside up to 15% of their state’s funding from the three major WIOA grant programs: the adult, youth, and dislocated worker formula grants. These funds may be used for a wide array of statewide workforce-related activities, from creating jobs to providing targeted assistance to disadvantaged youth.

In recent years, Congress reduced the 15% set-aside through the appropriations process. The fiscal year (FY) 2016 omnibus marks the first time since FY 2010 that the set-aside is at its authorized 15% level.

DHS Announces REAL ID Aviation Enforcement

Issue Brief 16-03
January 22, 2016

Summary 

On January 8, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the schedule for the final phase of implementation of the REAL ID Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-13). The act codifies the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that states meet specific standards when issuing driver’s licenses and identification (ID) cards used for federal purposes. The final phase addresses aviation, announcing the dates on which 1) the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will no longer accept noncompliant IDs from noncompliant states without an extension (January 22, 2018), and 2) the TSA will accept only compliant IDs from compliant states (October 1, 2020).

Federal Government Expands Resources to Help States Combat Prescription Drug Abuse

Issue Brief 16-02
January 21, 2016

Summary 

Deaths from prescription drug overdose have skyrocketed in the past decade. The federal government, state and local governments, and other entities are undertaking a variety of initiatives to address this issue. At the federal level, the focus is on areas such as coordinating activities among various agencies; enhancing law enforcement efforts; tracking/monitoring trends and improving data; training health care providers and educating the public; and providing resources to state and local governments to help support prevention and treatment efforts.    

While states may use substance abuse prevention and treatment funding to address prescription drug abuse, only a few dedicated programs existed until recently. Both the fiscal year (FY) 2015 and 2016 budgets enhanced funding and created new programs.

This Issue Brief highlights funding available to states, and recent legislative and administrative actions.

Expiring Mandatory Programs

Issue Brief 16-01
January 13, 2016

Summary 

Congress provides funding for discretionary grant programs through the annual appropriations process. It is not uncommon for these programs to be funded even when their authorizations have expired. However, discretionary programs account for only about 25% of federal grant funding to state and local governments. The remaining 75% is for mandatory programs, which derive their budget authority directly from authorizing legislation. Most of these programs are funded apart from the appropriations process, and must be reauthorized in a timely manner to continue to operate or undertake new activities.

2015

2015 Population Estimates Released; Impact on Bond Caps and SSBG Allocations

Issue Brief 15-41
December 23, 2015

Summary 

On December 22, 2015, the U.S. Census Bureau released resident state population estimates for July 2015. The new data identify population shifts and affect certain grant and other formulas.

The U.S. population continues to grow at a historically slow rate, with an increase of 0.79% in 2015. Population changes during the year ranged from a low of -1.72% in Puerto Rico to a high of 2.28% in North Dakota. In addition to Puerto Rico, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Mississippi, New Mexico, Vermont, and West Virginia registered declines.

This Issue Brief summarizes the new population estimates and calculates their effect on calendar year (CY) 2016 tax-exempt private activity bond limitations and fiscal year (FY) 2017 Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) allocations.

The Every Student Succeeds Act Becomes Law

Issue Brief 15-40
December 17, 2015

Summary 

The federal programs that comprise the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) have been unauthorized since the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB; P.L. 107-110) expired after fiscal year (FY) 2007. With enactment of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA; P.L. 114-95), these programs are now authorized for FYs 2017-2020, leaving the FY 2016 structure unchanged.

This Issue Brief summarizes the major components of ESSA, focusing on funding levels, new and eliminated grant programs, and changes to formulas and other fiscal provisions that govern existing programs.

The FAST Act: A Five-Year Surface Transportation Reauthorization

Issue Brief 15-39
December 9, 2015

Summary 

On December 4, the president signed into law the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, a five-year, $305 billion reauthorization of federal surface transportation programs. The reauthorization is fully paid for, which required a $70 billion transfer to the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), offset by numerous revenue and spending provisions. The law represents the first long-term surface transportation reauthorization in more than a decade.

While the FAST Act incorporates elements from both House and Senate proposals, it adheres more closely to the Senate bill. It increases total funding, includes two major new grant programs, and reauthorizes federal rail programs. This Issue Brief provides a summary of major provisions in the FAST Act, focusing on changes to federal grant programs.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund: Reauthorization Update

Issue Brief 15-38
December 2, 2015

Summary 

Authorization for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)—a revolving fund that provides grants to states to support outdoor recreation—expired on September 30, 2015.

In recent weeks, House and Senate committees have considered bills to reauthorize the fund. On November 18, the House Natural Resources Committee discussed a seven-year reauthorization proposal that would dramatically alter the distribution of LWCF funding. On November 19, a permanent reauthorization was approved by the Senate Natural Resources Committee. On November 20, another bill was introduced in the Senate, which would reauthorize the program for 10 years, and increase funding to states.  

At this point, it is unclear whether Congress can appropriate funding out of the fund’s existing balance in the absence of a current authorization. Furthermore, a number of legislative issues surround LWCF’s reauthorization, including funding levels and the distribution of funds between federal and state projects. This Issue Brief provides background on the LWCF, an analysis of current funding issues, and details on the recent reauthorization proposals.

Congress Approves Bill to Extend Medicaid Emergency Psychiatric Demonstration

Issue Brief 15-37
November 25, 2015

Summary 

Congress passed the Improving Access to Emergency Psychiatric Care Act (S. 599) to extend and potentially expand the Medicaid Emergency Psychiatric Demonstration program.

The program—created and funded by the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—allows participating states to provide Medicaid payments to private institutions for mental disease (IMDs) for treatment of eligible beneficiaries, ages 21 to 64, with psychiatric emergency medical conditions (EMCs). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) selected 11 states and the District of Columbia to participate in the three-year demonstration. The program was scheduled to run through June 30, 2015, but it ended a few months early due to funding being exhausted.

Update: The president signed this bill on December 11, 2015.

Interior Announces Additional FY 2015 PILT Payments

Issue Brief 15-36
November 23, 2015

Summary 

On October 30, 2015, the Department of the Interior (DOI) announced $34.5 million in payments to counties under the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program for fiscal year (FY) 2015, bringing the total for the year to $439 million. These payments compensate local governments—usually county governments—for property tax revenue that would otherwise be collected on non-taxable land owned by the federal government.

The October PILT payments add to the $405 million distributed in June. The additional payments were originally appropriated for FY 2016 by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 (NDAA), but were re-designated as FY 2015 payments by the FY 2016 Continuing Resolution (CR). The final FY 2015 total represents a 0.5% increase compared to FY 2014, and is almost equal to FY 2015 full funding. This Issue Brief provides background on PILT and details on the FY 2015 payments.

Surface Transportation Bills Head to Conference

Issue Brief 15-35
November 20, 2015

Summary 

On November 5, the House passed the Surface Transportation and Reform (STRR) Act (H.R. 22), its proposal for a six-year reauthorization of federal surface transportation programs. The Senate passed its version, the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act, in July.  

The bills now move to conference, where the House and Senate will attempt to resolve differences between the two proposals. Current authorization for the programs expires November 20, although Congress recently passed an extension through December 4, which the president is expected to sign.

While the STRR Act and DRIVE Act are both six-year reauthorizations and share common elements, the two bills differ in many respects. This Issue Brief compares the two proposals, focusing on changes to federal grant programs, and other issues to be resolved during conference. 

HHS Releases $3 Billion in LIHEAP Funds

Issue Brief 15-34
November 9, 2015

Summary 

On October 23, 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released $3.018 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2016 Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) block grant funds under the Continuing Appropriations Resolution 2016 (CR; P.L. 114-53). The CR keeps the federal government running until December 11, 2015. For most discretionary programs, the CR provides annualized funding at the FY 2015 enacted level reduced by a small across-the-board (ATB) rescission. The initial LIHEAP awards represent approximately 89% of LIHEAP’s funding under the CR.

Clawback Payments to Increase Significantly in CY 2016

Issue Brief 15-33
October 23, 2015

Summary 

The Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) that established the Medicare Part D prescription drug program requires states to make cost-sharing payments to the federal government, commonly known as the “clawback.” The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) must notify states by October 15 of their clawback charges for the coming year. The recent CMS release indicates that the per-beneficiary monthly clawback charge to states will increase by 11.61% in calendar year (CY) 2016, the largest increase since the program’s inception.  Based on this rate increase, FFIS estimates that state payments will total $9.7 billion in CY 2016, an annual increase of more than $1 billion.

In recent years, the Part D program has benefited from a slowdown in prescription drug costs, particularly as major specialty medications have lost their patent protections. With the availability of new specialty drugs, such as those for hepatitis C, this trend appears to be reversing. 

Congressional End-of-Year Deadlines

Issue Brief 15-32
October 9, 2015

Summary 

Having passed a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government operating through December 11, Congress now turns its attention to the remainder of its to-do list for the year. That list includes several high-priority “must do” items—including a fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget, extension of surface transportation programs, and an increase in the federal debt ceiling—as well as other items that could see action during the coming months.

This Issue Brief identifies the “must do” and “might do” items on the congressional agenda this fall. The table below summarizes the deadlines for the “must do” items. Many of the programs listed are mandatory and require a current authorization to receive new funding.

FY 2017 FMAPs Increase in 25 States, Decline in 12

Issue Brief 15-31
October 1, 2015

Summary 

On September 30, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released revised state personal income and per capita personal income data for 2014, as well as revisions for prior years. The federal government uses state per capita personal income to calculate each state’s reimbursement rate for Medicaid and other grant programs such as Title IV-E adoption assistance and foster care. This matching rate, calculated annually, is known as the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP). The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) uses an enhanced FMAP, which is higher than the Medicaid matching rate.

The BEA release allows calculation of the final fiscal year (FY) 2017 FMAPs and enhanced FMAPs, which are based on per capita personal incomes for calendar years 2012-2014.

This Issue Brief summarizes the BEA data and provides FFIS’s estimates of the final FY 2017 FMAPs and enhanced FMAPs. FFIS estimates that FMAPs will increase in 25 states and decline in 12 states.   

Medicare Part B Premiums for Dual Eligibles Projected to Increase 52% in CY 2016

Issue Brief 15-30
September 28, 2015

Summary 

A recent Medicare Trustees report estimated a substantial increase in monthly Medicare Part B premiums in calendar year (CY) 2016 for some beneficiaries due to a hold-harmless provision and to maintain adequate contingency reserves. According to the report, Social Security beneficiaries are expected to see a 0% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 2016. If this occurs, it would trigger a hold-harmless provision that prevents most Medicare beneficiaries (those that have Medicare Part B premiums deducted from their monthly Social Security benefits) from seeing an increase in their monthly Medicare Part B premiums.

Under this scenario, remaining beneficiaries, including those individuals who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid (dual eligibles), could see a 52% increase in their monthly premiums, from $104.90 in CY 2015 to $159.30 in CY 2016. Because Medicaid pays the Part B premiums for dual eligibles, FFIS estimates that the state share of Medicaid costs would increase by $2.3 billion in CY 2016 if the monthly premiums increase to $159.30. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is expected to announce the final 2016 monthly premiums in mid- to late October.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund: Funding and Reauthorization Issues

Issue Brief 15-29
September 9, 2015

Summary 

On August 13, 2015, the Department of Interior (DOI) announced $43 million in payments to states from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for fiscal year (FY) 2015. These matching grants assist states in planning, acquiring, and developing outdoor recreation facilities.

Authorization for the LWCF, which also funds federal outdoor recreation sites, is set to expire on September 30, 2015. A number of legislative issues surround its reauthorization, including the funding level, the possibility of a mandatory appropriation, and the distribution of funds between federal and state projects. This Issue Brief provides background on the LWCF, an analysis of current funding issues, and details on the FY 2015 payments to states.

Senate Passes Older Americans Act Reauthorization

Issue Brief 15-28
August 28, 2015

Summary 

On July 16, 2015, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation (S. 192) to reauthorize Older Americans Act (OAA) programs through fiscal year (FY) 2018. The bill modifies the hold-harmless provision used to allocate funds for most programs under Title III—State and Community Programs on Aging. It also expands the list of allowable activities for certain programs, and strengthens the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program.

ESEA Reauthorization Heads to Conference

Issue Brief 15-27
August 27, 2015

Summary 

In July, both the House and Senate passed their respective Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization proposals: the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) and Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (S. 1177). The federal programs that comprise ESEA have been expired since authorization of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB; P.L. 107-110) ended after fiscal year (FY) 2007.

This Issue Brief compares the two bills, focusing on changes to federal grant programs and the issues to be resolved during conference.

The DRIVE Act: Senate Passes Six-Year Transportation Reauthorization

Issue Brief 15-26
August 20, 2015

Summary 

On July 30, 2015, the Senate passed the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act (H.R. 22). The bill would reauthorize surface transportation programs for six years, but would provide sufficient funding into the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) for only three of those years, through federal fiscal year (FY) 2018. The bill would increase funding for existing programs and create several new ones, including a formula-based National Freight Program.

The House has not yet released a long-term reauthorization proposal, but is expected to do so this fall. This Issue Brief examines major provisions of the DRIVE Act.

FY 2015 JAG Allocations Announced

Issue Brief 15-25
July 20, 2015

Summary 

Recently, the Department of Justice (DOJ) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) announced state allocations for the fiscal year (FY) 2015 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program. JAG is one of the largest sources of federal justice funding to state and local governments, providing assistance for a broad range of purposes. The JAG formula is based on population and violent crime statistics. While appropriations for FY 2015 totaled $376 million (equal to FY 2014), set-asides reduced the amount available for formula grants by -3.6% compared to FY 2014.

DOI Releases FY 2015 PILT Payments

Issue Brief 15-24
July 20, 2015

Summary 

On June 24, 2015, the Department of Interior (DOI) announced $405 million in payments to counties under the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program for fiscal year (FY) 2015. These payments compensate local governments, usually county governments, for property tax revenue that would otherwise be collected on non-taxable land owned by the federal government.

In FY 2015, Congress did not extend mandatory full funding for PILT, and instead funded it through the appropriations process. This year’s PILT allocation represents a -7.4% decline compared to FY 2014. This Issue Brief provides background on PILT and details on the FY 2015 payments.

Senate Starts the Ball Rolling on Surface Transportation Reauthorization

Issue Brief 15-23
July 17, 2015

Summary 

On June 24, 2015, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee approved the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy (DRIVE) Act (S. 1647). The bill would reauthorize highway programs for six years, and provide an average annual increase in highway formula apportionments of 3%. Meanwhile, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee has passed its title of the bill, which covers highway safety and rail programs.

Before the full chamber can consider this surface transportation reauthorization, the Senate Banking Committee must provide a public transit title, and the Senate Finance Committee must provide the critical funding title. This Issue Brief examines the two titles of the DRIVE Act that have been released, and discusses the outlook for surface transportation reauthorization.

Some States See Large Increases in Abstinence Education Funding

Issue Brief 15-22
July 15, 2015

Summary 

Not all states apply for the Title V State Abstinence Education Grant program (AEGP). In the past, these unused funds were returned to the Treasury. In fiscal year (FY) 2015, appropriations language reallocated unused balances to qualifying states. As a result, overall grant awards increased by 29%. During the program’s recent reauthorization, this language was continued, and funding was increased from $50 million in FY 2015 to $75 million annually in FY 2016 and FY 2017.

HHS Releases Remaining FY 2015 LIHEAP Funds

Issue Brief 15-21
June 17, 2015

Summary 

On June 4, 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF) released the remaining $34 million in Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds. States received an initial release of $3.054 billion in federal fiscal year (FY) 2015 funds in October 2014, and a second release of $302 million in January 2015. With this third notice, ACF has released the program’s entire FY 2015 appropriation of $3.390 billion. Overall, LIHEAP funding changed by -1% in FY 2015, preceded by a 5.2% increase in FY 2014, and a -6.2% reduction in FY 2013.

CMS Releases Medicaid QI Allotments

Issue Brief 15-20
June 15, 2015

Summary 


Under the “qualifying individual” (QI) program, states receive 100% federal Medicaid reimbursement for paying Medicare Part B premiums for certain categories of elderly or disabled individuals up to an annual allotment. On June 1, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published final state allotments for fiscal year (FY) 2013 and preliminary allotments for FY 2014 in the Federal Register. The QI program received $765 million in FY 2013 and $785 million in FY 2014. While it had been authorized and funded through a series of short-term extensions, the program was recently permanently extended by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (P.L. 114-10).  

Comparing the Structure of House and Senate ESEA Reauthorizations

Issue Brief 15-19
June 12, 2015

Summary 

The federal programs that comprise the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) have been expired since authorization of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB; P.L. 107-110) ended after fiscal year (FY) 2007. Lawmakers in the House and Senate have offered comprehensive ESEA reauthorization proposals: the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) and Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (S. 1177). The former reached the House floor in early February, but still awaits final consideration. The latter was reported by the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee in April with bipartisan support, but awaits potentially controversial amendments on the Senate floor.

This Issue Brief compares the two bills and how they could affect federal grant programs to states. Table 1 provides a comprehensive list of all ESEA programs and their treatment under the two bills.

States Receive Funding Flexibility for WIOA Implementation

Issue Brief 15-18
June 3, 2015

Summary 

On July 22, 2014, Congress passed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA, P.L. 113-128), the first major reauthorization of the national workforce system since the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998. In addition to reauthorizing workforce programs, WIOA requires states to implement major administrative and programmatic changes. Although the law allows states to set aside funding from major workforce programs to assist in the implementation, states have expressed concern over the costs of complying with the new requirements. In response, the Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced additional flexibility for states in the use of funds previously appropriated for various workforce programs. This Issue Brief provides an overview of the funds that states have been authorized to redirect to WIOA implementation. 

Human Trafficking Bill Includes New Funding, Expanded Responsibilities

Issue Brief 15-17
May 22, 2015

Summary 

On May 19, 2015, the House followed the Senate’s lead and approved the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (S. 178), sending the bill to the president for signature. The bill is a collection of reforms targeting human trafficking, including the establishment of a Domestic Trafficking Victims’ Fund financed in part by penalties levied against those convicted of various offenses. This Issue Brief explains the purpose of the new fund and changes S. 178 makes to current grant programs.

Senate ESEA Bill Revises Formula for Title II Grants

Issue Brief 15-16
May 18, 2015

Summary 

On April 30, 2015, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved its bipartisan proposal to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177). S. 1177 proposes to revise the formula governing Title II Part A grants, currently known as Improving Teacher Quality State Grants. This Issue Brief discusses the proposed formula change and provides estimates of its fiscal impacts on states.

ESEA Funding Allocations Under Current Law

Issue Brief 15-15
May 11, 2015

Summary 

Lawmakers in the House and the Senate are considering legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which has not been successfully revisited since the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB; P.L. 107-110) expired in 2007. To better understand the implications of the proposals, this Issue Brief describes the funding authorized by NCLB. Table 1 is a matrix that lists each grant program in the law, its fiscal year (FY) 2015 funding level and formula components. Table 2 provides a 50-state summary estimate of all ESEA programs included in the FFIS database, along with relevant population data from the Census Bureau. Subscribers to the FFIS database have access to a supplementary Excel file with more detailed information on each of the 20 programs included in the Table 2 figures.

DOT Proposes Surface Transportation Bill

Issue Brief 15-14
May 7, 2015

Summary 

On March 30, 2015, the Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed legislation to reauthorize surface transportation programs. The Generating Renewal, Opportunity, and Work with Accelerated Mobility, Efficiency, and Rebuilding of Infrastructure and Communities Throughout America Act, or GROW AMERICA Act, would reauthorize surface transportation programs through fiscal year (FY) 2021, at a total cost of $478 billion.

In addition to supplementing the current gas tax with an additional $40 billion per year in transfers from the general fund (equal to the 10-year revenue from business tax reforms), the GROW AMERICA Act would increase spending for highway and transit programs, create a new Transportation Trust Fund that includes rail and multimodal accounts, and reauthorize and expand a range of discretionary grant programs.

USDA Announces FY 2014 Secure Rural Schools Payments

Issue Brief 15-13
April 30, 2015

Summary 

On April 28, 2015, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced  that the Forest Service’s Secure Rural Schools (SRS) payments to states for fiscal year (FY) 2014 will total $285 million, following a two-year reauthorization of the program through the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (P.L. 114-10). SRS provides assistance to states and counties affected by declining revenues from timber sales. USDA already distributed $50 million in FY 2014 payments according to an earlier, less generous formula, as well as $6 million in Special Act payments. All told, total Forest Service payments for FY 2014 will be $291 million, of which states and counties are still owed $235 million.

ACF Awards FY 2015 TANF Contingency Funds

Issue Brief 15-12
April 23, 2015

Summary 

On April 7, 2015, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) posted monthly Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Contingency Fund awards by state. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia received awards in fiscal year (FY) 2015. In total, ACF awarded $685 million, which consists of $583 million appropriated by Congress plus $102 million in unspent funds from previous years. 

SSBG Allocation Update

Issue Brief 15-11
April 17, 2015

Summary 


The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) recently revised its fiscal year (FY) 2015 allocations for the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) because the initial allocations did not reflect updated population data. In addition, FFIS updated its state-by-state estimates for FY 2016 based on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) sequestration report, which calculates a -6.8% sequestration percentage reduction for non-exempt nondefense mandatory programs in FY 2016. 

Medicare Part D Clawback Payments Projected to Increase by Almost $1 Billion in CY 2016

Issue Brief 15-10
April 14, 2015

Summary 


The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the parameters that will guide calendar year (CY) 2016 individual and state costs for the Medicare Part D drug benefit. CMS projects a 6.37% annual percentage increase in per capita Part D expenditures. After accounting for prior-year revisions, the annual percentage increase is 11.76%, the highest adjusted percentage increase since the program’s inception. In recent years, the Part D program has benefited from a slowdown in prescription drug costs, particularly as major specialty medications have lost their patent protection. With the availability of new specialty drugs, such as Hepatitis C drugs, this trend appears to be reversing. 

The release of the annual percentage increase, as well as enrollment data for persons dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, and FFIS projections of Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAPs) for federal fiscal year (FY) 2017, allow for preliminary estimates of state clawback costs for CY 2016. Based on the projections, CY 2016 clawbacks are estimated to cost states $9.5 billion, almost $1 billion more than CY 2015.

DHS Announces FY 2015 Preparedness Grants

Issue Brief 15-09
April 6, 2015

Summary 
On April 2, 2015, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its fiscal year (FY) 2015 preparedness funding opportunity announcement for the following programs:



• State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP)
• Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI)
• Operation Stonegarden
• Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG)
• Tribal Homeland Security Grant Program (THSGP)
• Nonprofit Security Grant Program
• Intercity Passenger Rail Program (Amtrak)
• Intercity Bus Security Grant Program (IBSGP)
• Port Security Grant Program (PSGP)
• Transit Security Grant Program (TSGP)
 
Fifty-state allocations were released for two programs: SHSGP and EMPG. Local allocations were released for UASI. FY 2015 funding levels for the programs listed above total $1.6 billion, an increase of $654,000 from FY 2014. FEMA extended the performance period for all FY 2015 non-disaster grant programs (except EMPG) from 24 months to 36 months.
 
**Updated 7-28-2015**
Final FY 2015 allocations published by FEMA match figures reported in this Issue Brief.
 

House Approves Two-Year Reauthorization of Secure Rural Schools

Issue Brief 15-08
April 2, 2015

Summary 

On March 26, 2015, the House approved the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2). In addition to replacing the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula and extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and other health programs (see Issue Brief 15-07), the bill includes a reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program for fiscal years (FY) 2014 and 2015. SRS provides assistance to states and counties affected by declining revenues from timber sales. The Senate is expected to consider the measure when it returns from its two-week recess

UPDATE (4/16/15): The president has signed this legislation.

House SGR Package Extends Health Programs, Delays DSH Reductions

Issue Brief 15-07
March 30, 2015

Summary 


On March 26, 2015, the House approved the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2) to replace the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula before the current patch expires on March 31. The bill would extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), as well as a number of mandatory-funded health programs operating under short-term extensions. The measure also proposes to delay and modify Medicaid disproportionate share hospital (DSH) reductions that were included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).   

UPDATE (4/16/15): The president has signed this legislation.

FY 2017 FMAP Projections

Issue Brief 15-06
March 26, 2015

Summary 

On March 25, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released preliminary state personal income and per capita personal income data for 2014. The federal government uses state per capita personal income to calculate each state’s reimbursement rate for Medicaid and other grant programs such as Title IV-E adoption assistance and foster care. This matching rate, calculated annually, is known as the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP). The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) uses an enhanced FMAP, which is higher than the Medicaid matching rate.

The BEA release of the 2014 preliminary data permits projections of fiscal year (FY) 2017 FMAPs and enhanced FMAPs, which are based on per capita personal incomes for calendar years 2012-2014.

This Issue Brief summarizes the BEA data and provides FFIS’s estimates of the preliminary FY 2017 FMAPs and enhanced FMAPs. FFIS projects that FMAPs will increase in 19 states and decline in 17 states. However, these projections are based on preliminary data, and states have found that adjustments in the final estimates can have a large impact on their FMAPs.  

HHS Announces Ebola Emergency Funding

Issue Brief 15-05
February 24, 2015

Summary 

On February 20, 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released allocations for Ebola emergency funding under the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) and Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP). The funds—included in the fiscal year (FY) 2015 enacted budget (P.L. 113-235)—are for enhancing state, local, and health care system preparedness for Ebola.

In total, $307 million is available in formula grants to states, territories, and four local governments (Chicago, the District of Columbia, Los Angeles County, and New York City), and $32.5 million in competitive funds for the development of a regional Ebola treatment strategy. Table 1 provides the formula allocations by program. HHS has issued the funding opportunity announcement for HPP; the announcement for PHEP will be forthcoming.

With SRS Expired, Forest Service Payments Fall Sharply for FY 2014

Issue Brief 15-04
January 30, 2015

Summary 

On January 15, 2015, the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service announced payments to states for their share of revenues from federal forests in fiscal years (FY) 2013 and 2014. These payments are awarded to rural counties for building schools and maintaining infrastructure. The FY 2014 payments totaled $50 million, a decline of -81.8% from FY 2013 payments, caused by the expiration of the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program. This Issue Brief analyzes the FY 2014 payments and the potential effect of lost SRS payments on other federal revenue-sharing programs.

HHS Releases Additional FY 2015 LIHEAP Funds

Issue Brief 15-03
January 30, 2015

Summary 

On January 21, 2015, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Children and Families (ACF) released $302 million in Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) block grant funds. States received an initial release of $3.1 billion in federal fiscal year (FY) 2015 funds in October 2014. With this second notice, ACF has released $3.357 billion of the $3.390 billion appropriated for the program in FY 2015. At this time, ACF is holding back $33.9 million (1%) of the total funding. Overall, LIHEAP funding decreased by -1% in FY 2015, preceded by a 5.2% increase in FY 2014, and a -6.2% reduction in FY 2013.

Recent Trends in EPA Grant Funding

Issue Brief 15-02
January 29, 2015

Summary 

State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG) provide funding for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) programs that are under the primary control of state, local, or tribal governments, as well as other governmental partners. There are two broad categories of STAGs: infrastructure grants and categorical grants. Table 1 summarizes the various programs, and this Issue Brief examines the programs and recent trends.

DHS Issues REAL ID Final Rule

Issue Brief 15-01
January 14, 2015

Summary 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a final rule on the enforcement plan for the REAL ID Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-13) on December 29, 2014. The act mandated the 9/11 Commission’s recommendation that states meet specific standards when issuing driver’s licenses and identification (ID) cards used for federal purposes. The final rule maintains the phased enforcement plan announced in December 2013, but modifies the date by which all residents of compliant and extension states must hold a license that satisfies REAL ID standards to October 1, 2020. All other jurisdictions will be subject to enforcement beginning January 19, 2015.