Budget Blog

July 12, 2022 - Washington Report

By Leah Wavrunek posted 07-12-2022 04:11 PM

  

This Week on the Hill  

The House and Senate are in session this week.

The House convenes today and will consider 15 bills. For Wednesday and the balance of the week, the House will consider 11 bills including H.R. 7900, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 (NDAA). Committees scheduling hearings this week include: the Ways and Means Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on the housing crisis; the Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on the state of credit in the Farm Bill; and the Small Business Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on the HUBZone Program.

The Senate convenes this week and will resume consideration of administration nominations. Committees scheduling hearings this week include: the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee will hold a hearing Tuesday on public transportation in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act; the Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on pathways to lower energy prices; and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on protections from unmanned aircraft systems.

 

Treasury Updates Project and Expenditure Report User Guide for SLFRF

On Friday the Treasury Department released an updated version, 3.1, of the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) Project and Expenditure Report User Guide. According to the Revision Log (pg. 140), version 3.1 was updated to reflect changes to the broadband section. A project and expenditure report is due by July 31 for all Tier 1 recipients, which includes states and territories.  

 

Treasury Publishes Updated FAQs for Emergency Rental Assistance Program

Last week the Treasury Department issued updated frequently asked questions (FAQs) for the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program. The footnote on page 1 lists the updates made on July 6, including a revision to provide further information regarding multiple subjects, with substantive revisions made to FAQs 1, 15, 23, 37 and 38 while FAQs 43-45 were added. Additional edits were made for clarity.

 

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline to Launch Saturday

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline will go live on all devices this Saturday, July 16. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a resource page designed to help states, territories, Tribes, and mental health and substance use disorder professionals understand the background, history, funding opportunities, and implementation resources for strengthening suicide prevention and mental health crisis services. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a 988 Crisis Response State Legislation Map that tracks pending and enacted legislation.

 

COVID-19 Relief Implementation

The following guidance and information was recently released to implement provisions in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (Division M of H.R. 133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021), and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA).

  • Treasury Updates NEU Distribution Information for Second Tranche: The Treasury Department updated its table on status of payments to states for distribution to non-entitlement units of local governments (NEUs). The table, last updated July 1, shows the Total NEU Allocation, Second NEU Tranche amount and invoice date, and date of the first extension if applicable.
  • Education Updates ARP ESSER Plan Webpage: The Department of Education updated its site on American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) plans, to now include school district/local educational agency (LEA) use of funds plans on state websites.
  • FNS Approves P-EBT Programs for Summer 2022: The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) approved additional states to operate a Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program during Summer 2022: Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Montana, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Washington and West Virginia. To date, a total of 27 states and territories have been approved. The agency also issued a press release highlighting the approvals and other actions/resources to support child nutrition.
  • FEMA Posts State-Specific Funeral Assistance Data: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released updated monthly data for the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance program. As of July 5, FEMA has provided more than $2.6 billion to over 410,000 people to assist with COVID-19-related funeral costs for deaths occurring on or after January 20, 2020. The release includes data on applications, amount approved, and number of awards by state and territory.
  • FWS Awards More Than $9 Million for Endangered Species Care During Pandemic: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and Association of Zoos and Aquariums announced the distribution of the second wave of awards – a total of over $9 million – under the Endangered Species COVID-19 Relief program. ARPA allocated $30 million to reimburse expenses related to the care of captive species, as well as rescued and confiscated wildlife that are at-risk of extinction. A list of recipients is included in the announcement.

 

IIJA Implementation Resources Released

Federal agencies continue to release implementation resources pertaining to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA).

  • The Department of Energy (DOE) opened the application period for states, Tribal nations, and territories to apply for the $2.3 billion Preventing Outages and Enhancing the Resilience of the Electric Grid Program. The program will assist with projects that create good-paying jobs to deliver clean, affordable, and reliable energy. The formula grant program will provide $459 million annually over an anticipated five-year period. Applications are due by September 30.
  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will award nearly $1 billion in IIJA funding to 85 airports across the country to improve terminals of all sizes. The grants will expand capacity, increase energy efficiency, promote competition, and provide greater accessibility for individuals with disabilities.
  • The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced three grant programs, available through a combined Notice of Funding Opportunity, to improve and expand ferry service in communities around the country and accelerate the transition to zero emission transportation. The programs include Ferry Service for Rural Communities Program ($209 million), Electric or Low-Emitting Ferry Pilot Program ($49 million), and Passenger Ferry Grant Program ($36.5 million).
  • The Department of Energy (DOE) awarded more than $40 million to 21 organizations and five state agencies to help families make their homes more energy efficient and lower utility costs. The funds from the Weatherization Assistance Program will help repair, electrify, and weatherize homes.
  • The Department of the Interior (DOI) announced a $36.1 million investment, including $27.7 million in IIJA funds, to safeguard local water supplies in the wake of record drought. Twenty-seven projects in 12 states and Puerto Rico will be awarded funding to advance quantifiable and sustained water savings by protecting watersheds impacted by fire, restoring aquatic habitats and stream beds, and advancing other restoration projects to mitigate drought-related impacts. The list of projects is included in the announcement.
  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) announced the latest round of Alternative Fuel Corridor designations, which are now found in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Under the IIJA’s National Electric Vehicle (EV) Infrastructure Formula program, funding is directed to designated EV Alternative Fuel Corridors to serve as the backbone for the national EV charging network.
  • The Department of Transportation (DOT) launched a website that lists five-year totals for all grant programs authorized under the IIJA for the department. The page does not include programs that were authorized but are subject to appropriation. Several of the programs include links to additional information.

 

DOT Proposes Rule Requiring States and Municipalities to Set GHG Emission Targets

On Thursday the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Highway Administration announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for states and municipalities to track and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The new rule includes two steps to combat climate change: establish a national framework for tracking state-by-state progress by adding a GHG performance management measure to existing national performance measures to help states track performance and make more informed investment decisions; and create a flexible system under which state DOTs and metropolitan planning organizations would set their own declining targets for on-road GHG emissions from roadway travel on the National Highway System. The proposed rule would require states and municipalities to report biennially on their progress in meeting the declining targets they establish and require DOT to assess significant progress toward achieving those targets.

 

Administration Proposes Changes to Federal Student Loan System

On Wednesday the Department of Education released proposed regulations to expand and improve the major student loan discharge programs authorized by the Higher Education Act. The regulations propose to alleviate student loan debt burdens for borrowers whose schools closed or lied to them, who are totally and permanently disabled, and for public service workers who have met their commitments under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The regulations also propose stopping many instances of interest capitalization and giving borrowers their day in court if they have disputes with their colleges. The department aims to finalize the rules by November 1, 2022 and have the rules take effect no later than July 1, 2023; the public is invited to comment for 30 days. The unofficial copy of the proposed regulations can be found here and a fact sheet here.

 

FEMA Releases Roadmap to Federal Resources for Disaster Recovery

Last week the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released the Roadmap to Federal Resources for Disaster Recovery (Roadmap) to provide information to help state, local, Tribal, and territorial partners navigate commonly-identified post-disaster challenges, solutions, and federal financial resources. The Roadmap can be used as an interactive tool filtered by topics, or “challenges,” or the document version can be browsed by commonly utilized financial resources.

 

FAA Issues $371 Million in Airport Project Funding

On Friday the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced $371 million for airfield, safety and other improvement projects at 169 airports in 40 states. The funding is available through the third round of funding via the 2022 Airport Improvement Program, or AIP. The program funds projects including construction of new and improved airport facilities, repairs to runways and taxiways, maintenance of airfield elements, and the purchase of equipment.

 

DOL Announces $140 Million for QUEST Dislocated Worker Grants

Last week the Department of Labor (DOL) released Training and Employment Guidance Letter No. 02-22 that contains the QUEST: Disaster Recovery National Dislocated Worker Grants funding announcement. The letter announces availability of up to $140 million, with award amounts of up to $15 million, to support worker and business engagement, elevate equity, and connect jobseekers with high-quality jobs. The goal of the funds is to enable individuals who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the related social/economic inequities to enter, return to, or advance in high-quality jobs in growth industries including infrastructure, environment and climate, the care economy, and other critical sectors. Applications are due by August 4.

 

Administration Releases Fact Sheet on Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence

Yesterday the White House released a fact sheet noting 21 executive actions to reduce gun violence utilized by the administration. These actions include regulations to reduce ghost guns, directives to U.S. Attorney’s Offices to increase resources dedicated to specific violent crime strategies, model extreme risk protection order legislation, and launch of five new law enforcement strike forces. The President also called for cities and states to use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to reduce gun crime and other violence crime, while five federal agencies made changes to 26 different programs to direct support to community violence intervention programs. The fact sheet also highlights multiple grant programs and other resources focused on reducing gun violence.

 

Medicaid and CHIP Managed Care Monitoring and Oversight Tools

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released an informational bulletin providing additional tools for states and CMS to strengthen the monitoring and oversight of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) managed care programs. The resources include reporting templates related to medical loss ratio and network adequacy and a toolkit for states to oversee access in Managed Long-Term Services and Supports programs. CMS also announced updates to a new web-based portal for state reporting on managed care programs.

 

Recently Released Reports

2020 State and Local Government Finance Historical Datasets and Tables

U.S. Census Bureau

Education Provisions in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act

Congressional Research Service

Expanding Access to Medications for Opioid Use Disorder Treatment for Justice-Involved Populations Under Community Supervision: Best Practices from Four States

National Governors Association

Recent Trends in Mental Health and Substance Use Concerns Among Adolescents

Kaiser Family Foundation

 

 

Economic News

Unemployment Claims Reported for Week Ending July 2

The U.S. Department of Labor released unemployment insurance weekly claims data last Thursday that showed for the week ending July 2, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 235,000. This is an increase of 4,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 231,000. The 4-week moving average was 232,500, an increase of 750 from the previous week's unrevised average of 231,750. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate was 1.0 percent for the week ending June 25, an increase of 0.1 percentage point from the previous week’s unrevised rate. The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 219,507 in the week ending July 2, an increase of 11,919 (or 5.7 percent) from the previous week.

 

Economy Adds 372,000 Jobs in June

New data released last week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 372,000 in June and the unemployment rate remained at 3.6 percent. The data also shows that in June there were 5.9 million unemployed persons, essentially unchanged. The number of long-term unemployed (jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially unchanged at 1.3 million, accounting for 22.6 percent of the total unemployed. The labor force participation rate, at 62.2 percent, changed little over the month and is 1.2 percentage points below its February 2020 value. In June, notable job gains occurred in professional and business services (74,000), leisure and hospitality (67,000), health care (57,000), transportation and warehousing (36,000), and manufacturing (29,000). Employment showed little change in construction, retail trade, financial activities, other services, and government. State government jobs decreased by 1,000, with increases in state government education (+4,000) offsetting decreases to state government, excluding education (-5,100). The change in total nonfarm payroll employment was revised down for April (-68,000) and May (-6,000).

 

Job Openings at 11.3 Million in May

The number of job openings decreased to 11.3 million on the last business day of May, down by 427,000 over the month, according to data recently released by the U.S. Department of Labor. The largest decreases in job openings were in professional and business services (-325,000), durable goods manufacturing (-138,000) and nondurable goods manufacturing (-70,000). The number of hires was little changed at 6.5 million and the hires rate was unchanged at 4.3 percent. The number of separations was little changed at 6.0 million. The number of quits reported in May was little changed at 4.3 million. Finally, layoffs and discharges was little changed at 1.4 million. Over the 12 months ending in May, hires totaled 78.4 million and separations totaled 72.0 million, yielding a net employment gain of 6.4 million.

 

State Job Openings Rates Little Changed in 32 States for April

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released data on state job openings and labor turnover for April. The number of job openings decreased in 16 states and increased in 7 states in April while job openings rates decreased in 12 states and increased in 6 states, with little change in 32 states and the District of Columbia. The number of hires increased in 4 states and decreased in 4 states while the number of total separations decreased in 8 states and increased in 3 states. The number of quits decreased in 10 states and increased in 6 states in April, and layoffs and discharges decreased in 5 states.