Thanks to the advocacy efforts of landscape architects and allied
organizations, many federal programs important to the profession were salvaged
in the most recent fiscal year 2011 spending bill, H.R. 1473. While this recent spending measure makes some
reductions, ASLA is pleased that continued funding was provided for the
critical programs the Society advocated for, including: the Land and Water
Conservation Fund (LWCF), the Transportation Investment Generating Economic
Recovery (TIGER) Grants program, the Sustainable Communities Initiative, and
the Community Development Block Grants.
H.R. 1473 was passed by the House of Representatives on April
14, by a vote of 260-167 the Senate is expected to follow suit.
The following is a synopsis of current funding levels provided
in the bill for certain programs important to landscape architects:
Land and Water Conservation Fund:
In February, during the House of Representatives’ initial
consideration of spending cuts (H.R. 1), the House narrowly defeated an
amendment to eliminate all funding for LWCF.
The House then passed H.R. 1, which included only $41 million for LWCF federal land
acquisition and no funding for the stateside program, a significant reduction
from the $301 million provided in 2010.
After intense pressure from grassroots organizations across
the country, including ASLA members, budget negotiators have recently agreed to
increase funding for the LWCF. H.R. 1473
provides $95 million for LWCF federal land acquisition and about $40 million for
the stateside program.
Now the debate shifts to the fiscal year 2012 (FY 2012)
budget, where President Barack Obama has requested full funding for LWCF at
$900 million. Many policymakers believe that full funding for LWCF is
appropriate because the program is already paid for through revenues from
offshore oil and gas royalties. ASLA,
along with other advocates, are gearing up to urge full funding for this
program that helps provide important recreational and economic opportunities
for our communities.
Transportation and Community Planning Grant Programs:
Last February during consideration of H.R. 1, the House also
voted to eliminate all funding for the Transportation Investment Generating
Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program and the Sustainable
Communities Initiative, programs which allow communities
to improve regional
planning efforts that integrate housing, transportation, and environmental decisions.
Thanks to the
diligent advocacy efforts of ASLA members and other organizations, funding was
restored for these critical programs. Under the new spending bill (H.R. 1473),
the Sustainable Communities Initiative will receive $100 million in funding and
the TIGER grant program will receive $258 million. According to the House Appropriations
Committee, the TIGER grant program has received $78 billion in applications for
its current $2.1 billion budget, demonstrating the need for these community planning
services far exceeds the available funding.
The committee also stated that
cutting the program would have put 30,580 jobs at risk. H.R. 1473 also provides about $10 billion for the Federal Transit
Administration, representing only a slight decrease from fiscal year 2010
levels. Funding was also restored to the Community Development Block Grants programfor which the bill sets aside $3.3
billion. With this recent
funding in place, landscape architects may continue to help communities plan
and implement sound infrastructure projects that
will help grow our economies now and in the future.
National Park Service:
While spending for the
overall National Parks Service was only reduced by $7 million dollar, specific
programs important to the profession received noticeable reductions. In particular, spending for NPS construction projects is $210 million, $24 million less than FY 2010
levels. Historic preservation
programs received $55 million, $25 million less than FY 2010 levels. The bill prohibits the use of any funds appropriated
to this account for Save America's Treasures program grants.
While many programs
important to the landscape architecture were saved, other programs continued to
take budget hits in this latest round of spending negotiations. H.R. 1473 provides no funds for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Brownfields
Redevelopment Program, which received $18 million in FY 2010 and
significantly slashes the Environmental
Protection Agency’s Clean and Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund grants
program budget by more than one-third to $3.7 billion from about $5 billion in fiscal
The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) shares
the concerns of many about wasteful spending.
However, ASLA encourages the Congress to make sensible spending
decisions like investing in our nation’s crumbling infrastructure and assisting
our communities to become more vibrant and economically-sound places to live,
work and recreate. ASLA will continue to
work for these types of programs during future budget debates.