Thanks for checking in today - Stay tuned for my E&W Testimony which will be reformatted for release on WaterLog, and an informational article ‘Financing Coastal Resilience – The Future is Now’ by Dan Ginolfi, that will be useful to all of you looking to IMPLEMENT!
Congress is Taking the First Step to Deal with the President’s Budget Proposals
Congress is holding hearings at which each agency explains why it can function with one-third less money than it currently has. Speaking about one-third, that’s the amount of the Federal budget that is discretionary. The rest is mandated spending for Social Security, Medicare, interest payments on the government’s debt and other non-discretionary items. So far, the hearings on the proposed budget for the Corps have shown bipartisan criticism of its scant funding and of the Office of Management and Budget’s determination to enforce its policies about minimum benefit-cost ratios and discount rates. Those Democrats can’t agree about overall spending levels, which means there will be no budget resolution. While a work-around will be found, the issue of spending levels will be a major one by September. That’s when the current bipartisan spending level agreement needs to be amended or else Congress will be forced to make mandatory 10% spending cuts under procedures it adopted two years ago.
Federal Spending Spurs Economic Growth
That’s the conclusion of a Wall Street Journal report that found that expanding discretionary spending by Uncle Sam increases the rate at which the economy grows. Now if only the gap between revenues and spending could be attacked with the same vigor as trade deficits, we might actually find it possible to expand spending on infrastructure.
Disaster Funding is Overwhelming the Corps
So much so that the Jacksonville (FL) Corps District has put out the Help Wanted sign in search of economists, biolgists, engineers, contracting specialists and more. Look out for how the $17 billion the Corps got in the 2018 disaster supplemental to affect the willingness of Congress to add funding for coastal resilience to the President’s record-low budget proposal.
Congress Eyes the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (again)
The House Transprtation & Infrastructure Committee held an April 10th hearing on the HMTF. The event’s title gives a good idea of the event’s purpose: “The Cost of Doing Nothing: Why Full Utilization of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and Investment in our Nation’s Waterways Matter” Check here for a video of the hearing.
Money is Growing Scarcer for Beach Projects
Not only is the Federal pre-disaster investment less than the non-discounted cost of a commercial jetliner, but it costs communities a lot to maintain clean and safe beaches. More and more are looking at parking as an untapped source of revenue including St. Johns County in northern Florida and the more bucolic Pawleys Island in South Carolina. We’d like to hear from you about innovative approaches your community is using to pay for maintaining its beach.
Opposition to New Offshore Oil & Gas Drilling is Bipartisan
A recent article published in E&E News noted that Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA), a long-time offshore drilling proponent, has asked the Administration to exclude Georgia from its offshore energy plans. At least one chamber of the State’s legislature has also voted against drilling.
Tax Incentives for Water Resources Improvements?
Not yet, but House Democrats are looking at that approach for financing wind and solar energy production. It’s not a new idea since tax credits are already on the books. Proponents say they are working to boost clean energy investment. The downside: They are limited and they have to be regularly renewed by a Congress that remains highly divided on partisan lines. Nevertheless, the tax incentive approach might be used to encourage investments in some types of water resource projects.