Capitol to Capitol
An Information Service of NCSL's Standing Committees

Volume 17   Issue 16- May 6, 2010

BUDGET RESOLUTION CLEARS COMMITTEE

States face a three-year freeze on state-federal discretionary programs if the FY 2011 budget resolution that cleared the Senate Budget Committee advances. Although already five weeks overdue, the Senate Budget Committee cleared its draft budget resolution on a narrow 12-10 vote. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s floor schedule has final action on it taking place before Congress’ Memorial Day recess. The legislation allows for additional war spending to be offset (a potential break from practice) and effectively co-opts using budget reconciliation to advance climate change legislation. The budget resolution assumes reinstatement of the federal estate tax at 2009 rate and exemption levels, assumes that Congress will permanently fix the alternative minimum tax, and extends 2001 and 2003 income tax provisions for couples with incomes under $250,000 ($200,000 for singles). The draft resolution shows preference for increased funding for early childhood education, the clean water and safe drinking water state revolving funds, and homeland security. As usual, the approved draft resolution is replete with reserve funds, particularly for energy and environment programs. Reserve funds require supporters to find new revenues or spending cuts to “activate” funding for the purposes stated in the reserve funds. Over in the House, there’s no final word yet as to whether that chamber will move an FY 2011 budget resolution. (NCSL staff contacts: Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley)


“JOBS” BILLS UPDATE

It’s pretty reasonable to say that financial services reform, possible climate change legislation, a new interest in comprehensive immigration reform, a pending Supreme Court nominee and the aforementioned budget resolution have collectively relegated the “jobs” legislation to second class. “Jobs” bill #2, H.R. 4213, containing a six-month extension of the enhanced Medicaid match, remains stalled as lawmakers search for offsets for this and/or other provisions in the same legislation.

There are two newcomers to NCSL’s “jobs” bill tracking roster. H.R. 5019—now “Jobs” bill #6—would authorize $6 billion for installation of new heating and air conditioning systems, replacement of old windows and water heaters, and accomplishment of other energy-efficiency upgrades. Nicknamed the “cash for caulkers” bill, H.R. 5019 has emerged from the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The Senate does not have a companion piece of legislation.

Last week, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin introduced a $23 billion education “jobs” bill that would extend the state fiscal stabilization fund of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Senator Harkin’s legislation—NCSL is calling it “Jobs” bill #7—is fashioned after provisions that can also be found in “Jobs” bill #3 (H.R. 4812) and last year’s Jobs for Main Street Act that passed the House but never found traction in the Senate. The new Senate legislation would offer state grants ranging from $2.8 billion for California to $39 million for Wyoming to keep education spending from “falling off the funding cliff.” A maintenance of effort (MOE) provision-based on 2006 K-12 and higher education spending as the floor, with an alternative based on 2009 continuing education spending proportionality is included. The “4 assurances” of ARRA are not. Sponsors are not expecting to find an offset leaving attachment to a FY 2010 supplemental appropriations bill as the only likely vehicle to move this legislation.  

All other jobs bills—#4 (H.R. 4849 with TANF emergency contingency fund and Build America Bonds extensions) and #5 (small business loan extension, disaster assistance, summer youth jobs funding) remain in limbo in the Senate. NCSL staff contacts: job bills generally (Michael Bird, Jeff Hurley), Medicaid (Joy Johnson Wilson, Rachel Morgan), TANF (Sheri Steisel, Lee Posey), energy/environment (Tamra Spielvogel, Max Behlke), education (David Shreve, Robert Strange).


ON THE HORIZON

The Senate attempts to begin floor debate on financial services regulatory reform legislation (S. 3217), including preemptive strikes against state insurance regulation, this week...And, the tripartisan Senate team seeking middle ground on climate change legislation, including possible preemptive strikes against state authority to regulate greenhouse gases, may introduce their legislative vehicle this week.