Senate Appropriations Bills Passed
In mid-September, the Senate Committee on Appropriations passed several bills pertaining to parks and recreation. S. 2810 is a $2.75 million appropriations bill for rehabilitative services. These "seed funds" will support the development of recreation and related services for individuals with disabilities "to aid their employment, mobility, independence, socialization and community integration." The administration's budget proposed no funds for the program, which aligns with actions from past Congresses of unfunded federal mandates.
In related action, NRPA Public Policy recently collaborated with U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), ranking member of the Labor, HHS and Education subcommittee, and Iowa park and recreation officials to arrange site visits to a recreation program for individuals with disabilities. Harkin attended the
"Buddy Baseball" program in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and witnessed public recreation services in action.
NRPA advocacy priorities for the 109th Congress include a substantially greater commitment to recreation for persons with disabilities.
S.2804 is a $20.2 billion interior and related agencies appropriations bill for FY 2005. The action resulted in a cut of about $256 million from the $20.5 billion provided last year, but is a $35 million increase over the president's proposed funding level.
While several other bills were passed helping to fund programs within the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service and the USDA Forestry Service, no funds were allocated for the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery (UPARR) program in either the Senate or House.
The Senate report acknowledging these bills also notes opposition of the appropriations committee to the proposed American Outdoors Act and the similar House version, both of which NRPA supports. …