Legislative Alert! Advocacy Updates from Colorado and Washington D.C.

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1 Legislative Alert! Advocacy Updates from Colorado and Washington D.C. NAN MOREHEAD Director of Public Policy Denver Department of Human Services MEG COSTELLO Public Policy Analyst Colorado Coalition for the Homeless

2 Overview of the 2009 Colorado Legislative Session The big issues this year were: TABOR To be, or not to be? It s the Economy, Stupid Got Health Care? Death and Taxes 2

3 TABOR To be, or not to be? Taxpayer s Bill Of Rights (TABOR): TABOR is a set of constitutional provisions Colorado voters adopted in 1992 to limit revenue growth for state and local governments. TABOR requires the voters to approve any tax increase at the state and local levels. It is the most restrictive tax and spending limitation in the country. 3

4 A Glance at Colorado s Budget Corrections 4% Transportation 7% Education K-12 24% All Other 20% Human Services 12% Higher Ed 12% Health Care Policy and Financing 21% 4

5 It s the Economy, Stupid According to the PEW Charitable Trust, strengthening the economy and improving the unemployment issue is the top concern for 85% of Americans. Facing a nearly $1 billion budget shortfall, legislators spent the majority of the session focusing on finding additional money and targeting areas of the budget to cut. 5

6 Got Health Care? It s estimated that about 800,000 Coloradans are uninsured, including 180,000 children, and that about 440,000 residents receive Medicaid benefits. Arguably the most significant health care reform bill in decades was signed into law this session. HB 1293, the Health Care Affordability Act, will collect a hospital provider fee from all licensed hospitals for the purpose of leveraging enhanced federal funding. That money will be used to offset the costs of uncompensated care for hospitals and expand Medicaid and CHP+ to thousands of Colorado children and adults. This bill is expected to generate about $1.2 billion. 6

7 Death Penalty Repeal Death and Taxes Several fees and taxes were passed this year as well. Some highlights include: An increase on new vehicle registrations to pay for transportation A measure getting rid of a deduction for capital gains earned in Colorado which is expected to raise $7.1 million in the first year. Lawmakers also approved repealing a property tax exemption for senior citizens and furlough days for state employees. 7

8 Bills Related to Homelessness Anti-Poverty Task Force (HB 1064) In a year when the situation is nothing but bleak, we applaud Representative Kefalas for continuing the fight for the most vulnerable citizens in our state. HB 1064 creates a legislative task force to take a comprehensive look at combating poverty and strengthening opportunities for economic advancement. The bill ensures that legislators recognize the severity and scope of poverty in Colorado and that something needs to be done to combat it. 8

9 Bills Related to Homelessness, continued Medicaid Hospital Provider Fee (HB 1293) The Health Care Affordability Act stands to cover 100,000 uninsured Coloradans at a time when the health care and unemployment are combining to squeeze families more than ever. The hospital provider fee is expected to generate $1.2 billion for Colorado. 9

10 Bills Related to Homelessness, continued Primary Care Fund Cuts (SB and the Long Bill) The Colorado Legislature took action to transfer some of the Amendment 35 tobacco tax revenue away from the programs for which Colorado voters approved it in The cuts include a transfer of up to $7.4 million from the Primary Care Fund, which helps provide care to the uninsured. Thirty-six clinics around the state receive money from the Primary Care Fund, the Stout Street Clinic is the 6th largest recipient of those funds. 10

11 Amendment 35 Funds 46% for public health insurance expansion (Child Health Plan Plus and Medicaid) 19% for comprehensive primary care through clinics across the state that serve the uninsured and medically indigent - $30 million/year 16% for prevention, early detection and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases 16% for tobacco education, prevention and cessation programs 3% for the general fund, old age pension fund and municipal and county governments 11

12 Bills Related to Human Services County Administration The state budget was the major focus of county departments of human services, especially the line item for County Administration. Although this term sounds very administrative, it really is the funding for the staff who determine eligibility and process applications for the Medicaid, Food Stamps and Adult Protection programs. The federal government pays for the actual benefits but the states and counties must pay for the staff who deliver the benefits. Although there was concern this line would be drastically reduced, it remained level in the final budget. Level funding does not address the significant increases in case loads but did prevent reductions in staffing. 12

13 Bills Related to Human Services, continued Identification Processing Unit for Jails (SB09-06) This bill came from a task force of metro-area sheriffs who have realized that it is both inappropriate and costly to incarcerate people who are mentally ill in county jails. As a first step in helping prevent recidivism, this legislation funds a mobile unit from the Division of Motor Vehicles to travel to metro-area jails to process ID cards for inmates who have the basic documentation such as birth certificates or who have previously had a state ID. The IDs will help people acquire employment, housing and benefits upon release. It is hoped the program can be expanded to other counties in the future. 13

14 Bills Related to Human Services, continued Verifiable Documents to Youth Leaving Foster Care (SB09-104) Youth who have been in foster care are at high risk of becoming homeless as adults. This legislation is intended to give youth emancipating or aging out of foster care a better start by providing them with essential documents. Counties who have youth in their care are required to provide verifiable documents such as a birth certificate and Social Security card at no cost by the youth s 18th birthday. Although these documents are required only for older youth, it is helpful if the county DHS obtains any available documents when children first enter care. 14

15 What to Expect in the Future A possible special session (July 2009) It s an election year Budget, budget and more budget 15

16 Mr. Smith Goes to Washington TANF Reauthorization McKinney-Vento Reauthorization (HEARTH ACT) American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) 16

17 TANF Reauthorization The Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program is the basic welfare program for families. It replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program when it was first passed in 1996 and is more stringent. There is a 60 month lifetime limit on benefits and the emphasis is on any form of work. TANF has been reauthorized once and will be up again for reauthorization by Congress in Hopefully, this time around it won t take four years! Because of changes in Congress, there has been some encouragement that positive changes in the program will be possible. The most widely discussed change would be to encourage more emphasis on education and training. 17

18 McKinney-Vento Reauthorization On May 20, 2009, President Obama signed the HEARTH Act a bill which reauthorizes the McKinney-Vento homeless assistance programs of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. This marks the first time that the McKinney Vento programs have been reauthorized since The enacted version of the HEARTH Act is a mix of favorable and disappointing provisions. They are 18

19 Favorable Provisions Homelessness prevention is significantly expanded. Finances the renewal costs of permanent housing projects. New incentives place more emphasis on rapid re-housing, especially for homeless families. Prohibits HUD-funded shelters and housing projects to separate any child or youth member of the family as a condition of shelter/housing. 19

20 Favorable Provisions Improves access to elementary and secondary education for homeless children and youth. Requires a study on rural homeless assistance, including offering recommendations on the appropriate federal agency or agencies to administer a rural homeless assistance program. 20

21 Disappointing Provisions The authorization level for HUD McKinney-Vento programs is set at $2.2 billion, far below the minimum $3 billion level of annual funding need identified by national homeless advocates. The bill relegates homeless people and service providers to consultative roles, rather than assuring them decision-making roles. 21

22 Disappointing Provisions The new definition of homeless individual for HUD programs continues to exclude several subpopulations recognized in other federal law to be homeless. New definition is overly complex. 22

23 Disappointing Provisions Creates inequity in access to HUD-funded homeless assistance services across jurisdictions. Codifies into law the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) without assuring privacy protections for homeless people or controlling use of HMIS data for decisionmaking. 23

24 Disappointing Provisions Limits flexibility of jurisdictions receiving Emergency Solutions Grant funds to spend the full amount of ESG resources on emergency shelter, outreach, and essential services. Misses the opportunity to elevate the Executive Director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness to a Senate-confirmed position. Definition of rural area permits metropolitan cities within some western states to secure funds through the rural account, rather than the Continuum of Care program. 24

25 ARRA Colorado is expected to receive almost $3.5 billion in direct funding, benefits and services from ARRA. ARRA provides a range of funding for programs to build affordable housing, prevent neighborhood blight and help low-income families weatherize their homes. 25

26 ARRA What it Means for Colorado Category of Funds Amount (in millions) Healthcare and Medicaid $797 Unemployment Benefits & Job Training $600 Transportation $404 Transit $103 Energy Weatherization & Efficiency $130 Water Projects $66 Public Safety $35 Housing Assistance $68 Food Stamps and Emergency Food $178 State Stabilization Fund K-12 Education $170 State Stabilization Fund Higher Ed $452 Budget Stabilization/Governor s Office $138 Other Education $319 26

27 ARRA Programs Related to Housing and Homelessness Tax Credit Assistance Program (TCAP - $27.3 million) grant funding for capital investment in Low Income Housing Tax Credit projects. Provides financing for gaps caused by the collapse of the tax credit equity market, to help stalled development projects and to stimulate economic activity and job creation. Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP - $50 million) for the purchasing and rehabilitating or demolishing of foreclosed and vacant homes which will then be turned into affordable housing. 27

28 ARRA Programs Related to Housing and Homelessness Community Service Block Grants (CSBG - $8.6 million) These funds will be used to help Colorado citizens become more self-sufficient by providing services related to employment, nutrition, housing and health. Eligible citizens for services include individuals and families at 200% of poverty. Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP) $15.4 million grant for local and state agencies for short and medium term rental assistance, housing relocation and stabilization services. Prevention funds can be used for financial assistance, utility payments and security and utility deposits grants for local and state agencies for short and medium term rental assistance, housing relocation and stabilization services. 28

29 ARRA Programs Related to Housing and Homelessness Community Development Block Grants (CDBG - $10.3 million) funds to help local governments implement projects in economic development, housing and infrastructure. Priority placed on projects that can begin quickly. Public Housing Capital Fund ($17.6 million) for the development, financing and modernization of public housing. Rental Assistance ($81.4 million) for competitive loans provided under the Rural Housing Insurance Program so that more affordable housing can be provided in rural areas. 29

30 ARRA Programs Related to Housing and Homelessness Rural Community Facilities Program ($1 billion nationwide, state allotment unclear) Colorado expects to receive funds for hospitals, health clinics, health and safety vehicles and equipment, public safety vehicles, and child and elder care facilities in rural areas. Green Projects for Federally Assisted Housing ARRA designates $250 million in competitive funds to private and non-profit groups that participate in Section 8, 202 and 811 housing programs for environmentally friendly projects. 30

31 ARRA Programs Related to Human Services Medicaid, which will receive $880 million, is the largest category of funds coming to CO and represents about 30% of the total. Food Stamps represent the biggest bang for the buck in terms of stimulating the economy. Low-income households use them immediately which to meet their needs and this also helps local retailers and producers. The Food Stamp grant will be $181 million plus $2.5 million in administrative funds for the counties. 31

32 ARRA Programs Related to Human Services The Child Care Development Block Grant will receive $24.3 million with no match required and Head Start will get $8.1 in new funding. There is no direct grant for TANF. An Emergency Contingency Fund of $5 billion has been created nationally. The fund will reimburse states 80% of increased spending in the areas of basic cash assistance, non-recurrent shortterm assistance and subsidized employment 32

33 How Can You Be a Part of the Be an Advocate! Solution? Visit CCH s website at for the latest news and to sign up for action alerts. Join us in H.E.L.L.! 33

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