The Cromnibus and its Impact on States
On Dec. 16, the president signed the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015, the $1.1 trillion spending bill passed by Congress last week. The legislation is a mix between a short-term continuing resolution, known as a “C.R.,” and a long-term omnibus spending bill. The legislation, known as the “CR-omnibus,” funds most of the government through September 2015. The exception is the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which is funded only through Feb. 27, 2015.
Republican lawmakers chose to temporarily fund the Department of Homeland Security until late February in response to President Obama’s executive order on immigration. The cromnibus provides $521 billion for defense and $492 billion for nondefense discretionary spending. The spending bill establishes funding levels for national programs that will directly affect state governments. Several of the key state programs are listed below.
- Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant--The federal government provides grants to states and territories to help address issues across the entire criminal justice system. The cromnibus provides this program $376 million, which is a small increase from the $344 million the program received last year.
- State Energy Program--The U.S. Department of Energy provides funding and technical assistance to states to help develop clean energy. This program will receive similar funding to FY2014 levels, at $50 million
- State Trade and Export Promotion--The Small Business Administration awards grants to states to assist state export promotion programs. The STEP grant was given $17.4 million in funding for FY2015, an increase of $9.4 million from last year.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program--The Department of Agriculture provides funds to states to alleviate hunger in the U.S. The SNAP program will receive $81.8 billion for FY2015, down $332 million from FY2014.
- Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act--The U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, and Health and Human Services work in conjunction to help job seekers obtain employment by providing training, education, and other support services. The cromnibus provides $2.624 billion for this program, an increase of $36 million from FY2014.
In addition to funding levels, the cromnibus also contains a provision to extend the Internet Tax Freedom Act through FY2015, which prevents state governments from taxing Internet access. The cromnibus also revokes a Waters of the U.S. interpretive rule of 56 agricultural exemptions that the Environmental Protection Agency issued in conjunction with its proposed rule on Waters of the United States. However, the cromnibus does not prevent the EPA from issuing the larger proposed rule on Waters of the United States.