What’s in the omnibus appropriations bill for Illinois

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The release from Sen. Dick Durbin D-Ill.:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced that the Fiscal Year 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 – based on the budget agreement approved by the House and Senate last year – was passed by the Senate. The bill was passed by the House yesterday and will need to be signed by the President to become law. According to Durbin, the following projects, programs and provisions – listed with the cities, towns or regions they primarily impact – are beneficial to Illinois:

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations

Department of Transportation

· TIGER Grant Program, Statewide / Nationwide: $600 million in nationwide funding for the Transportation Infrastructure Grants and Economic Reinvestment (TIGER) grant program allows local communities to apply directly to the DOT for funding of nationally significant transportation projects. This program is especially helpful to communities engaged in multimodal projects that improve connections to different transportation networks. Several projects have been funded under the TIGER grant program in Illinois including: The Normal Multimodal Transportation Center, the Peoria Warehouse District, the CREATE project and the Tri-City Port in Madison County Illinois.

· Amtrak, Statewide / Nationwide: $1.39 billion in nationwide funding for Amtrak. By providing adequate funding to Amtrak, more than 500 communities in 46 states across the country will continue to see improved passenger rail service.

· Highway Investments, Statewide / Nationwide: $40.995 billion in nationwide funding for the Federal Highway program. This funding is at the MAP-21 fully authorized level. Federal funding comprises 57% of the funds included in the Illinois Department of Transportation’s multi-year highway improvement program.

· Transit Investments, Statewide / Nationwide: $8.595 billion in nationwide funding for formula funded accounts. This funding is at the MAP-21 fully authorized level.

· New Starts Program, Chicago / Nationwide: $2.123 billion in nationwide funding for the ‘New Starts’ grant program which allows existing transit systems to compete for funding. The funding includes $120 million for the newly created ‘Core Capacity’ program that Durbin authored in the recent transportation bill, known as MAP-21. This program establishes a new category for capital investment projects by authorizing core capacity projects, like the planned rebuilding of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)’s Red and Purple Lines.

· Airport Investments, Statewide / Nationwide: $3.350 billion in nationwide funding for capital investments grants at airports around the country. Federal aid funding supports airport improvement projects around the state of Illinois including the O’Hare Modernization Program at O’Hare International Airport, noise mitigation measures at Midway International Airport, runway improvements at Chicago / Rockford International Airport and Quad City International Airport and safety improvements at Peoria International Airport.

· Essential Air Service, Marion / Decatur / Quincy / Nationwide: $259 million in nationwide funding for the Essential Air Service program which was established by Congress in 1978 to ensure communities with commercial air service before airline deregulation could continue scheduled flights. Without this program many rural communities would have no commercial air service at all, and residents of smaller cities would have to travel significant distances for flights. In Illinois, Marion, Decatur and Quincy will be able to continue in the Essential Air Service program under this appropriation level and under the reforms that were included in the FAA Reauthorization bill. All three Illinois communities have shown steady increases in ridership and subsequently, steady decreases in the subsidy levels over the past three years.

· FAA Contract Towers, Statewide / Nationwide: The omnibus fully funds the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s contract tower program, and includes bill language that protects the program against cuts. Under a year-long continuing resolution, the contract tower program would not be protected. This past year, in order to live within the budget constraints of a full-year continuing resolution and sequestration, the FAA imposed drastic cuts to its contract tower program and tried to shut down 149 towers across the country. These cuts would have potentially shut down air traffic control towers at Bloomington-Normal, Marion and Carbondale and other airports.

· Airport Privatization, Nationwide: Report language was included at Durbin’s request to discourage the Department of Transportation from allowing cities and states to avoid repaying previously received federal funds when privatizing their airports. The report language also requires Government Accountability Office to study the airport privatization program and evaluate whether or not the public interest is protected in these privatization deals. In July 2011, Durbin introduced the ‘Protecting Taxpayers in Transportation Asset Transfers Act’ which would protect taxpayer investment in major infrastructure projects when local and state governments privatize roads, airports and other transportation facilities and require increased transparency and public involvement before major transportation projects can be leased or sold.

· Passenger and Freight Rail Grant Program, Statewide / Nationwide: $42 million in nationwide funding for grants to improve passenger and freight rail. This new grant program can be used for states, local governments and mass transit systems to make capital investments in passenger and freight rail infrastructure and safety technology, including Positive Train Control (PTC). Durbin has long advocated for the implementation of PTC. In December 2013, Durbin called on the Metra Board of Directors to clarify their position on implementing PTC and report back to the Illinois Congressional Delegation with recommendations. The bill sets aside $20 million of these funds for states to plan improvements to passenger rail corridors where environmental permitting has not been completed yet.

Department of Housing and Urban Development

· Fair Housing Initiatives Program, Statewide / Nationwide: $40.1 million in nationwide funding for the Fair Housing Initiatives Program which aims to assist people who believe they have been victims of housing discrimination. In 2012, eight organizations and service centers in Illinois received funds to assist individuals and families facing housing discrimination.

· Choice Neighborhoods, Chicago / Statewide / Nationwide: $90 million in nationwide funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Choice Neighborhoods Initiative which promotes a comprehensive approach to transforming distressed areas of concentrated poverty into viable and sustainable mixed-income neighborhoods. The program links housing improvements with a wide variety of public services and neighborhood improvements to create opportunity. The Woodlawn community in Chicago was one of the first recipients of a $30.5 million Choice Neighborhood grant for a comprehensive development project along Cottage Grove Avenue.

· Homeless Assistance Grants, Statewide / Nationwide: $2.1 billion in nationwide funding to maintain services for those currently receiving homeless assistance and to promote communitywide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness.

· Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS, Statewide / Nationwide: $330 million in nationwide funding for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program which provides housing assistance and related supportive services to local units of government, States and non-profit organizations for projects that benefit low-income persons medically diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and their families. In Fiscal Year 2013, Illinois communities received more than $7 million in HOPWA funds.

· Community Development Block Grant, Statewide / Nationwide: $3.03 billion in nationwide funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program which provides annual grants to states and local governments to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment and by expanding economic opportunities principally for low and moderate income persons. CDBG funding is an important tool for helping local governments to tackle serious challenges facing their communities. The nearly $152 million that communities throughout Illinois received in Fiscal Year 2013 went towards helping organizations like Community Connections Center in Mount Prospect provide social services to families and residents in the community.

· HOME Program, Statewide / Nationwide: $1 billion in nationwide funding for the HOME program which helps to expand the supply of decent, affordable housing to low-income and very low-income families by providing grants to state and local governments to fund housing programs that meet local needs and priorities. HOME is the largest federal block grant to ftate and local governments designed exclusively to create affordable housing for low-income households. In Fiscal Year 2013, Illinois communities received more than $42 million in funding. Efforts like building an affordable housing complex in Canton, Illinois, take place in part with HOME Program funding.

· Security for Public Housing Authorities, East St. Louis: Report language setting aside $20 million for emergency capital needs including safety and security measures necessary to address crime and drug-related activity at public housing authorities. The report language stresses the importance of using funds to protect housing authority residents. Durbin requested this language to ensure funding is available to housing authorities facing high rates of violent crime like the East St. Louis Housing Authority.

Energy and Water Appropriations

Army Corps of Engineers

· Metro East Levees, Metro East, Illinois: A legislative provision and Committee Report language was included to direct the Army Corps of Engineers to use a portion of the approximately $200 million in funding appropriated for construction of high priority projects to fix the portions of the Wood River Levee that have been negatively impacted by a design deficiency in the construction of the Melvin Price Dam. The legislative provision allows any federal funds allotted to this project to be distributed without a local match and at full federal cost. Members of the Illinois Delegation wrote the Army Corps on Wednesday to encourage them to act quickly on these provisions and address the Mel Price issue as soon as possible.

· Calumet Harbor and River, Chicago: $4.912 million in funding for operations and maintenance of the Calumet Harbor breakwaters. Repairs to the navigation structures are critical for the safe towing of river barges between Calumet Harbor and three Indiana ports.

· Carlyle Lake, Carlyle: $5.542 million in funding for operations and maintenance at Carlyle Lake, the largest man-made lake in Illinois, with over 26,000 acres of water and 11,000 acres of public land. Funding is needed to provide flood control, water quality control, and water supply to nearby communities as well as recreation and fish and wildlife conservation. The lake was critical to maintaining water levels on the Mississippi River during recent historic low water events. This project is situated in Clinton, Fayette, Bond, and Marion Counties.

· Chain of Rocks, Madison County: $400,000 in funding to continue a deficiency correction which includes internal drainage improvements. The levee protects a major urban area in Madison County.

· Chicago Harbor, Chicago: $2.264 million in funding for operation and maintenance of the Chicago Lock, used by commercial towboat and deep draft barges and well as government, passenger and recreational vessels.

· Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal Aquatic Nuisance Species Barrier System, Chicago: $27.6 million in funding to continue operation of the barrier system to eliminate invasive aquatic nuisance species such as the Asian carp and to continue construction of permanent barriers.

· East St. Louis Levees, East St. Louis: $4.109 million in funding for the design, construction and rehabilitation of levees that provide flood protection to 200,000 residents and over $1 billion in economic value.

· Farm Creek Reservoirs, East Peoria: $312,000 in funding for continued operation of two dry reservoirs along tributary streams of the Illinois River. This system provides necessary flood control for East Peoria.

· Interbasin Control of Great Lakes-Mississippi River Aquatic Nuisance Species, Chicago: $3 million in funding to continue a study, including consultations with appropriate Federal, State, local and non-governmental agencies, on the range of options and technologies to prevent the inter-basin transfer of aquatic nuisance species.

· Illinois River Basin Restoration, Peoria: $400,000 in funding to continue planning and construction to restore and conserve the ecological integrity of the Illinois River, including the reduction of sediment delivery, restoring side channels and backwaters, restoring floodplain riparian and aquatic habitat and function, and improving water and sediment quality.

· Kaskaskia River Navigation, Central Illinois: $1.928 million in funding to ensure operation of the lock and dam. This project serves navigation, recreation, fish and wildlife and habitat restoration functions.

· Lake Shelbyville, Shelbyville: $5.711 million in funding to provide dam maintenance, flood control, water supply, recreation, conservation of fish and wildlife, and water quality control and augment navigation flows downstream on the Kaskaskia River.

· Lockport Lock and Dam, Lockport: $11.4 million in funding to update and rehabilitate the 114-year old dam. This project is critical to preventing failure of the lock and a subsequent halt to navigation.

· McCook and Thornton Reservoirs, Chicago: $25.5 million in funding for continued construction of the McCook Reservoir in the Chicago Underflow Plan. This project benefits the City of Chicago and 36 suburban communities by reducing untreated sewage back flow into Lake Michigan and reducing basement flooding by protecting nearly 150,000 structures.

· Waukegan Harbor, Waukegan: $472,000 in funding for annual dredging of Waukegan Harbor. Without yearly dredging, the port closes to commercial traffic.

· Rend Lake, Rend Lake: $5.581 million in funding to provide flood control, water supply, recreation, conservation of fish and wildlife, and area redevelopment. This project is located near Benton, Illinois, in Franklin and Jefferson Counties.

· Upper Mississippi River Restoration, Western Illinois: $31.968 million in funding for continued ecosystem restoration along the Upper Mississippi River.

· Wood River Levee, Wood River: $3.689 million in funding to continue design and potentially construction of levee improvements to provide the authorized level of protection it provides during a flood. The project is located in the Mississippi River floodplain of Madison County, upstream of the city of East St. Louis.

Department of Energy

· Basic Energy Science, Argonne / Nationwide: $1.6 billion in nationwide funding for the Office of Science’s Basic Energy Science account which is Argonne National Laboratory’s largest single-source funding source, and accounts for approximately 40% of the lab’s funding;

o Major Items of Equipment: $20 million in funding for the upgrade and operations of the Advanced Photon Source, a sophisticated x-ray beam that companies, universities, and other research institutions use to conduct their own research.

o Energy Innovation Hub for Batteries and Energy Storage: $24 million in funding nationwide for the Energy Innovation Hub for Batteries and Energy Storage. In November 2012, Argonne National Laboratory was selected to receive an award of up to $120 million over five years to create the Hub, also known as the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, which is a partnership including University of Chicago, the University of Illinois, the City of Chicago, and private firms and townships in Illinois. The project will establish Illinois as a leader in a multi-billion dollar, developing industry that has potential to stimulate substantial employment and economic growth.

· Advanced Scientific Computing Research, Argonne / Nationwide: $479 million in nationwide funding for the Office of Science’s Advanced Scientific Computing Research account, which supports Argonne’s National Laboratory’s supercomputer initiatives;

o Leadership Computing Facility, Argonne: $67 million in funding for the operations of Argonne’s Leadership Computing Facility;

o Exascale Computing Initiative, Nationwide: $111 million in nationwide funding for the Department of Energy’s Exascale Computing Initiative. Durbin is a lead sponsor of the ExaSCALE Computing Leadership Act of 2013, which would speed the development of computers that are faster than 50 million laptops combined. The new technology would be useful in computation-intensive research areas such as physics, earth science, national security, biology, engineering, climate modeling, aerospace and energy.

· High Energy Physics, Batavia: $797 in nationwide funding for the Office of Science’s High Energy Physics account which is the primary source of funding for Fermilab, and accounts for approximately 90 percent of the lab’s funding;

o Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment, Batavia: $26 million in funding is included for the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment, a primary focus at Fermilab. Research in neutrinos represents the next frontier of particle physics.

o The Muon to Electron Experiment, Batavia / Nationwide: $35 million in funding is included for the Muon to Electron Experiment which could result in the development of a revolutionary technology in the field.

o Accelerator Stewardship, Batavia / Nationwide: $10 million in nationwide funding to help quickly translate scientific advancements in High Energy Physics to other energy and medical research fields. This is a critical mission at the Illinois Accelerator Research Center, located on Fermilab’s campus.

· Science Laboratory Infrastructure, Batavia / Nationwide: $98 million in nationwide funding for infrastructure upgrade at national laboratories, including $35 million for critical infrastructure upgrades at Fermilab.

· Carbon Storage, Decatur/Nationwide: $109 million in nationwide funding for Carbon Storage Research, including $57 million for the Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships. One of these partnerships, between the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and Archer Daniels Midland, is located in Decatur.

Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations

Department of the Army

· Army National Guard Aviation Support Facility, Kankakee: $14 million for the construction of an Army National Guard Readiness Center to support training, administrative and logistical requirements for the Illinois National Guard. It replaces an extensively degraded building (with major roof leaks, nonfunctional latrines and insufficient power systems). The existing building also had safety issues related to dangerous overlap in the Center grounds and the Midway Airport commercial taxiing zone.

· Army National Guard Aviation Support Facility, Kankakee: $28 million to construct a 126,000 square foot Army Aviation Support Facility consisting of Aviation administrative facilities and Aircraft Maintenance Hangars that provide consolidated multipurpose space for the maintenance, repair, and major overhaul of military aircraft. This project will include maintenance bays, tech supply, production control, and quality control areas directly related to the maintenance and supervision of aircraft, component and assembly rebuilding, and quality control of aviation maintenance and a building that houses the flight operations and administrative functions of the airfield headquarters. The existing building is unsustainable to support its mission.

Department of the Navy

· Navy Unaccompanied Housing Quarters, Great Lakes: $35.851 million to construct housing for 616 naval recruits, who are required to be housed in on-base living quarters. The existing, inadequate and deteriorating housing facility will be demolished. Despite berthing facility shortages on base, ongoing documented maintenance issues have made the current building unsuitable and inadequate.

Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations

Department of Health and Human Services

· Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education, Chicago / Nationwide: $265 million in nationwide funding to children’s hospitals for residency programs that train the pediatric workforce. Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois has previously benefitted from this program.

· Community Health Centers, Statewide / Nationwide: $3.639 billion in nationwide funding for the Community Health Centers grant program. In Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013, Community Health Center program grantees in Illinois received more than $241.5 million, of which $125.8 million was funded through the Affordable Care Act. In the last three years, Community Health Centers program grantees in Illinois have received more than $213 million in Affordable Care Act funds.

Department of Education

· Head Start, Statewide / Nationwide: $8.6 billion in nationwide funding for Head Start to promote school readiness of children from low-income families. Of that funding, $500 million will be set aside to expand the Early Head Start program and for new discretionary grants for high quality infant and toddler care.

· Impact Aid, North Chicago / Nationwide: $1.3 billion in nationwide funding for Impact Aid, including $66.8 million for Federal property payments. This program provides assistance to school districts that have lost tax revenue due to tax-exempt federal properties or that experience increased expenditures due to the enrollment of federally connected children, such as those living on military installations. This funding is critical for school districts in Illinois such as the North Shore School District who enroll hundreds of children from nearby military installations.

· Pell Grant, Statewide / Nationwide: With funding under the bill, the maximum Pell grant for 2014-2015 is estimated to be $5,730. That is an increase of $85 over the previous year. Pell Grants help keep college within reach for millions of low income students each year, including nearly 400,000 Illinois students in 2011-12.

Agriculture Appropriations

Department of Agriculture

· Agriculture Research, Champaign / Nationwide: $543 million in nationwide funding to support agriculture research and outreach through Land Grant Universities and Cooperative extension programs like those operated by the University of Illinois.

· Food Safety Inspection Services, Nationwide: $1.011 billion for Food Safety and Inspection Services, which is $33 million above fiscal year 2013. This will fully fund all current and future estimated inspection services. Last year FSIS announced several food recalls including one recall of more than 142,000 lbs of frozen pizzas due to possible adulteration and a recall of nearly 50,000 lbs of ground beef due to possible E. Coli contamination.

Food and Drug Administration

· Food Safety Modernization Act Implementation, Nationwide: $2.553 billion in nationwide funding for the Food and Drug Administration to continue implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act. Senator Durbin’s Food Safety Modernization Act was first introduced in 2008 and the bill was signed into law in January 2011. When the bill was introduced, 48 million Americans suffer from preventable foodborne illness each year. FDA is still in the process of implementing the improved requirements included in the bill.

Financial Services and General Government Appropriations

· Consumer Product Safety Commission, Nationwide: $118 million in nationwide funding for the nation’s leading consumer protection watchdog in its work to protect the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products. The bill also directs the Commission to take steps to reduce or limit the use of flame retardant chemicals. In 2012, the Commission released a study that indicates that flame retardant chemicals, as currently used in upholstered furniture foam, have no practical impact on flammability. In July 2012, Durbin chaired a hearing on the safety and effectiveness of flame retardant chemicals, following a Chicago Tribune four-part investigative report on flame retardant chemicals and furniture flammability standards which explored the role of Big Tobacco and their attempt to shift the focus from cigarettes as the cause of fire deaths. Chemical companies, which sought to preserve a lucrative market for their products, teamed with the tobacco industry and state fire marshals to steer policymakers away from developing fire-safe cigarette standards and toward rules requiring furniture flammability standards.

Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations

Department of Justice

· Violent Gang and Gun Crime Reduction, Chicago / Statewide / Nationwide: $8.5 million in funding for a competitive grant program aimed at reducing homicides and gun-related violent crime in communities overwhelmed by gangs of national significance and illegally purchased and trafficked guns.

· Preventing Gun Violence, Chicago / Statewide / Nationwide: $975 million, an increase of $70 million, in nationwide funding for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to enhance efforts to enforce gun laws, trace crime guns, and investigate illegal gun trafficking. The bill also provides $128 million, an increase of $60 million, to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to run instant criminal background checks for gun purchases, and provides $58.5 million in grants for states to improve submission of criminal and mental health records to the background check database.

· Funding for U.S. Attorney Offices, Statewide / Nationwide: $1.9 billion in nationwide funding for U.S. Attorney offices, which is $114 million above the fiscal year 2013 sequester level. This funding will enable the Justice Department to prioritize hiring to fill vacant federal prosecutor positions.

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