Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Advocacy Update: For LWCF, a New Opportunity

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Advocacy Update: For LWCF, a New Opportunity

Article excerpt

With a new Congress and administration, NRPA members must continue the fight for a fully funded LWCF.

During a two-year session of Congress, only approximately 5 percent of the bills introduced are actually enacted into law. Add to the mix election-year politics, soaring energy prices, and a mortgage crisis, and those numbers are even lower.

In fact, while approximately 10,000 bills have been introduced during the 110th Congress, the Wall Street Journal in August reported that only 294 of those bills were signed into law. And of those signed into law, a large portion were bills naming local post offices for men and women of the armed forces who have died in combat. Congress has passed few substantive bills during the 110th and, suffice it to say, the advancement of legislation relating to park and recreation agencies was not a priority for this Congress.

Even the annual spending bills have fallen victim to election-year politics, as only three of the 12 fiscal year 2009 appropriations bills had been passed when Congress adjourned in October. Prior to adjourning, Congress passed a continuing resolution to fund the federal government at fiscal year 2008 levels until March 6, 2009.

Many political analysts and insiders are speculating that we are likely to see a year-long continuing resolution for fiscal year 2009, which ends Sept. 30, 2009, as the new Congress and new administration will choose to focus their attention on the fiscal year 2010 budget and spending bills.

While it does not provide a funding increase, the continuing resolution does provide funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund's stateside assistance program at the fiscal year 2008 level. This is significant because funding for the LWCF s stateside assistance program has significantly declined over the past several years, dropping from $144 million in fiscal year 2003 to $25 million in fiscal year 2008. Obviously, a continuing resolution may not be the ideal funding mechanism because it does not provide a funding increase. However, given the current political climate, having funding allocated to LWCF at a level equal to fiscal year 2008 and not experiencing a funding decrease is a noteworthy accomplishment.

NRPA believes considerable opportunities exist in the 111th Congress for LWCF funding. Before last month's elections, much legislative discussion focused on the development of a comprehensive energy package to include the expansion of offshore drilling. Given the public outrage over gas prices, we believe the momentum for a comprehensive energy package will carry forth into the 111th and will be taken up shortly after Congress convenes in January. …

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