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Taxpayer's Tab Issue #40

November 15, 2013

 

 

 

Vol. 4 Issue 40, November 15, 2013

Check out the bill that would increase ethanol spending by $1 billion at the bottom of the Tab!

Most Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 2560/S. 1269, the Community College to Career Fund Act

Annualized Cost: $2.7 billion ($8 billion over three years)

Students graduating from high school have a number of career options available to them. Many go directly into the workforce, gaining applied experience in their field of choice, while others choose to continue their learning in formalized institutions and programs. Besides traditional four-year universities, graduates may take a less expensive route through the community college system. Set up for nontraditional students who may not be able to attend courses over a four-year period, the smaller institutions typically are two-year programs, rewarding graduates with an associate's degree.

The federal government actively funds community colleges in a few of ways. The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, passed in conjunction with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, authorized $4 billion for the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training program from FY 2011 to 2013. According to the latest budget, $213 million was spent on this program in FY 2013, and the Department of Labor projects outlays will total $832 million in FY 2014. The government also provides funding to these institutions through Pell Grants and subsidized Stafford loans for students.

The Community College to Career Fund Act, sponsored by Congressman George Miller (D-CA) and Senator Al Franken (D-MN), would allocate additional tax dollars to the community college system. The bill would award new grants for programs to establish partnerships between two-year institutions and businesses in need of skilled workers. Firms would offer apprenticeships, on-the-job training, and paid internships while students would be earning academic credit. Based on a pay for performance model, companies and schools would be given more funds for "effectively helping trainees find permanent jobs."

The text of the Act would authorize $8 billion to be spent in the 2014-2016 period. These funds would be on top of the spending already provided for by the federal government. The legislation mirrors a proposal offered in the President's FY 2013 budget and again in the budget released earlier this year.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit WashingtonWatch.com.


Least Expensive Bill of the Week

The Bill: H.R. 2641, the Responsibility and Professionally Invigorating Development (RAPID) Act of 2013

Annualized Cost: $1 million ($5 million over five years)

Under current law, government agencies are required to conduct environmental assessments for construction projects that are partially or fully financed with federal dollars. The lengthy process for approval not only requires each agency to consult with other federal offices but also mandates for a period during which the public can submit comments on the proposal. Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA) introduced the RAPID Act to speed up project approvals.

H.R. 2641 would set a deadline of 18 months for environmental assessments and 36 months for environmental impact statements. To potentially help streamline the shortened process under this proposal, agencies could use similar reviews of nearby locations in place of creating entirely new studies. Private entities proposing construction projects that require government approval would be able to prepare their own environmental reviews for consideration. These would need to be approved by the federal agency leading the assessment.

According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the RAPID Act would require some agencies, specifically the Departments of Transportation and Defense, to devote more personnel and resources to meet the new deadlines and regulations. Such efforts would increase spending by $1 million for each of the next five years. CBO also noted that H.R. 2641 could increase the number of legal actions and may increase federal litigation costs but had no basis for estimating the conditional level of spending.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit WashingtonWatch.com.


Most Friended

The Bill: H.R. 1787/S. 842, the Rural Hospital Access Act of 2013

Annualized Cost: $400 million (first-year cost)

Number of Cosponsors: 65 Congressmen and 26 Senators

NTUF recently updated the cost estimate for the Rural Hospital Access Act, which was introduced by Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) in April. The bill would reauthorize the Medicare-dependent hospital (MDH) program and increase payments to rural hospitals under the program. Eligible hospitals must have no more than 100 beds and have at least 60 percent of their inpatient days covered by Medicare.

At the beginning of 2013, the future of the MDH and low-volume hospital (LVH) payment programs were uncertain. However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services extended the programs through the end of the 2013 Fiscal Year, which ended on October 1st. H.R. 1787 and S. 842 would extend the MDH program through FY 2014.

According to a CBO report for H.R. 8, the American Taxpayers Relief Act of 2012, the cost of extending the program and increasing the payments to applicable hospitals would increase spending by $400 million in the first year. Increasing payments would cost taxpayers $300 million and $100 million would be spent on continuing the program.

Cosponsors include 32 Democrats and 33 Republicans in the House. There are currently 18 Democratic, six Republican, and two Independent (who caucus with the Democratic Party) supporters of S. 842.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit WashingtonWatch.com.


The Wildcard

The Bill: S. 1563, the Biofuels Market Expansion Act of 2013

Annualized Cost: $200 million ($1 billion over five years)

The quest for national energy independence has been a major priority of each President and many in Congress over the past several decades. As part of this effort, policymakers have promoted ethanol and other biofuels made from crop plants as alternatives to petroleum fossil fuel. In early 2012, the Congressional Research Service summarized 22 federal biofuel incentive programs available at the time. Many of the tax credits listed were extended in the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 while the continuation of several other biofuel programs are still pending in the farm bill under consideration in Congress.

To help further increase the capacity and demand for biofuels, ethanol in particular, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) has introduced the Biofuels Market Expansion Act. Starting at biofuel sources, the government would expand loan guarantees to allow public dollars to be spent on pipeline construction for renewable fuels. To spur demand for biofuels, the legislation would also require automotive manufacturers to produce more dual-fueled cars and trucks. By 2017, manufacturers would have to ensure that 90 percent of vehicles produced are in compliance with this mandate (there is an exclusion for electric-powered vehicles).

The bill would also impose new regulations "to ensure that each major fuel distributor that sells or introduces gasoline into commerce in the United States through majority-owned stations or branded stations installs or otherwise makes available one or more blender pumps that dispense E-85 fuel and ethanol fuel blends." A blender pump would be capable of dispensing at least three different blends of gasoline and ethanol. These regulations would be accompanied by a new grant program to subsidize the installation of blender pumps.

The text of S. 1563 would authorize $1 billion in spending over a five-year period to ensure that that at least half of all stations have these pumps by 2022. Identical legislation was proposed in the 112th Congress as S. 187, for more information, a transcript of a 2011 Senate committee hearing is available.

To learn more or discuss this bill visit WashingtonWatch.com.

   

Welcome to The Taxpayer's Tab -- the weekly newsletter for up-to-the-minute research from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation's BillTally Project. For more information, check out NTUF's BillTally Project and our partner, WashingtonWatch.com!


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Issue 37 - Oct 24
Budget Conference Committee: A BillTally Perspective

Issue 36 - Oct 14
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Issue 35 - Oct 4
Federal Budget Important but Debt Ceiling Resolution Vital


About NTUF

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