Omnibus Appropriations Funding announced for Nevada | NevadaAppeal.com

Omnibus Appropriations Funding announced for Nevada

Staff report

More money for geothermal has been included in the recently passed Omnibus Appropriations Funding bill.

Nevada received specific funding in the 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Bill that passed the U.S. Senate last week.

"This is terrific news for Nevada," said Sen. Harry Reid. "This bill is not perfect by any means, but after three years of damaging cuts to vital health and education programs, infrastructure projects, and so much more, this bill finally increases investments in the middle class.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., however, did not vote for the bill, which passed both the House of Representatives and Senate.

Heller voted last month against the Ryan/Murray budget deal, which established the guidelines for this omnibus package.

"In December, Congress chose to balance the budget on the backs of veterans and our nation's hard-working military men and women." Heller said. "This bill does not go far enough to restore the benefits that these service members earned while serving our nation. It is a shame that Congress has been unable to keep the promises made to those who have sacrificed so much to preserve our freedom."

Heller said he was disappointed that the bill did not address Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) funding for Nevada's rural counties. Heller said PILT is an obligation the federal government has to any county with public lands.

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PILT money to the counties, though, was approved separately in 2013, and Churchill County received more than $2.2 million in early July. PILT funding, according to Reid's office, is done separately.

The following projects have either a direct or indirect impact on Churchill County and central Nevada.

Military

Wastewater Treatment Plant, Naval Air Station Fallon ($11.3 million). This funding will replace the existing secondary wastewater treatment plant and associated operations buildings with a wastewater treatment plant to be used primarily for biological oxygen demand removal, nitrification, and denitrification.

The much needed investment will include the necessary pumps, piping, and control equipment for a complete system with a processing capacity of 750,000 gallons per day and includes the removal of existing biosolids accumulating in the wastewater treatment plant drying beds. Through built-in redundancy this project provides scaled operations geared toward producing energy savings.

Energy, water and natural resources

The omnibus provides zero funding for the Yucca Mountain project, maintaining the project's status as terminated. Neither the Nuclear Regulatory Commission nor the Department of Energy will receive any new funding this year to work on Yucca Mountain related activities. Additionally, no policy language related to Yucca Mountain that was included in an earlier House appropriations bill is included in the omnibus.

Wildland fires

The omnibus provides $3.938 billion for wildland fire nationwide ($417 million more than FY13). Fire has been identified as one of the major threats to sage grouse habitat.

The omnibus increases the Bureau of Land Management's funding by $7 million over FY13 to $1.1 billion nationwide. More than 85 percent of Nevada's lands are owned by the federal government, and BLM manages the vast majority of those lands for multiple uses, including recreation, economic development, clean energy development and conservation. BLM also plays an important role in conserving sage grouse habitat to avoid an Endangered Species Act listing.

Geothermal

The omnibus increases funding for geothermal energy to $45 million and includes language directing the Department of Energy to select a enhanced geothermal systems field project and to continue supporting "comprehensive academic and professional development initiatives." Nevada is well positioned to benefit from these provisions.

The omnibus increases funding by approximately $15 million (versus the president's budget request) for the Bureau of Reclamation's WaterSMART program which works with state and local water managers to plan for climate change and other threats to our water supplies.

Education

The bill includes $8.6 billion, a $1.025 billion increase, for Head Start, which restores cuts from sequestration and supports an approximately 1.3 percent cost of living adjustment for all current grantees. This will help restore slots lost because of sequestration including more than 200 in Nevada.

The bill provides $498 million more for Special Education State Grants than the fiscal year 2013 level— enough to cover the costs of employing roughly 6,000 additional special education staff. This will allow Nevada to fill the approximately 180 special education positions eliminated as a result of sequestration. Without this increase, state and local taxpayers would foot the bill for supporting services needed by special education students. The bill provides $11.473 billion for this program.

Also included is $2.36 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, which provides grants to states for child care assistance to working families, and to otherwise improve the quality of child care programs nationwide.

The bill provides $14.4 billion for Title I funding nationwide. These funds help schools, particularly those with concentrations of economically disadvantaged students, meet high academic achievement standards.

The bill provides $1.3 billion to help school districts, including several in Nevada such as Churchill County, make up for lost revenue or address increased costs associated with a federal activity, such as a military base.

The bill allows the maximum Pell Grant award to increase by an estimated $85 to a total of $5,730. The number of recipients is estimated to rise from 9.1 million in 2013-14 to over 9.3 million in 2014-15. Approximately 42,000 Nevada students are expected to receive Pell Grants in fiscal year 2014.

The bill includes $140 million, an increase of $29 million, for activities that support safe school environments nationwide. Funds may be used to develop or upgrade emergency management plans, create positive school climates and address issues of pervasive violence in some of our communities.

The bill includes $2.6 billion, an increase of $121 million, for Workforce Investment Act Grants to States to provide job training skills and assistance to low-skilled adults, dislocated workers, and low-income youth with barriers to employment.

care

The bill includes $3.6 billion, a $700 million increase, to provide comprehensive, quality health care services to medically underserved communities and vulnerable populations nationwide. This includes $350 million to create more 450 new community health centers across the nation and expand clinical services at existing health centers

Housing

This bill contains $3.03 billion for CDBG formula grants nationwide. This is $1.4 billion above the level included in the House bill. This funding will help Nevada communities restore neighborhoods impacted by the housing crisis and support programs for seniors, children and the disabled.

This bill contains $17.4 billion for Section 8 Tenant Based Rental Assistance renewals. The additional funds will allow local housing authorities to provide housing for Nevadans that would have become homeless if sequestration levels for maintained.

This bill provides $2.1 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants nationwide. This funding will continue the progress toward eradicating homelessness in Nevada.

The bill includes $75 million for HUD- Veterans Affairs Supported Housing (HUD-VASH) to provide housing for 10,000 homeless veterans nationwide.

The bill provides $1.11 billion nationwide for the Rural Development Rental Assistance Program. This program provides a subsidy to very low and low income rural occupants of affordable rental housing, who are often elderly, female headed households, or disabled.

This funding will provide about 7,500 low and very low income rural households the opportunity for homeownership.

Justice

The bill provides $2.3 billion to help State and local law enforcement with the tools they need to fight violent crime, gangs, and terrorism nationwide.

The COPS program, eliminated in the House's budget proposal, is funded at $214 million in this bill with $180 million set aside for COPS hiring grants to put roughly 1,500 cops on the street nationwide.

The bill provides $376 million for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants, $417 million for Violence Against Women Act programs nationwide, $255 million for juvenile justice and mentoring grants and $120 million for research and evaluation initiatives on the best prevention and intervention strategies.

It will provide the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms an additional $70 million for a total of $975 million for criminal enforcement, investigations, and inspections tools to enforce gun laws, trace firearms found at crime scenes, and keep illegal guns away from traffickers and criminals.

The bill also provides $58.5 million for all states to improve the quality of criminal and mental health records so interstate background checks are more effective and $15 million to train local police how to respond to active shooter situations so police and bystanders can get out safely when the unthinkable happens.

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