AUCD Legislative News In Brief

December 15, 2014

AUCD Legislative News In Brief
    December 15, 2014   |  Vol. XIV, Issue 50
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AUCD Policy News Special Report
Final FY 2015 Appropriations

Prepared by AUCD Public Policy Staff

December 15, 2014

On Saturday evening, the Senate approved a $1.1 trillion funding measure by a vote of 56-40. The bill, passed by the House last week, provides funding for all federal government programs through the end of fiscal year 2015, except for the Department of Homeland Security, which is funded only through February 27, 2015. The President has already agreed to sign the funding bill, which he will do by Wednesday, when the current continuing resolution runs out.

Overall the budget stays within the discretionary caps that were set by House and Senate budget leaders last year.  Most disability programs fare well given the ongoing environment of fiscal austerity.  The funding agreement is a compromise bill with a tone set by the incoming new Republican majority in Congress. While Democrats negotiated the reduction of more than 90 policy riders, the budget includes several items reflecting the priorities of the conservative majority on banking regulations, abortion, campaign finance, and other items. There are also numerous rejections or reductions in President Obama's January budget request such as the Pre-K initiative (which continues at the current levels but without the significant increases sought), a reduction in Promise Neighborhoods, and a rejection of the K-12 "Race To the Top" funding proposal.

For more detail on the disability programs within the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education, and Labor, see our full funding table.


Department of Health and Human Services

Administration for Community Living

Developmental Disabilities and Family Support Programs

AUCD is pleased to report that University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) received $37.674 million, a small $905,000 increase over the FY 2014 level.  The report language specifically states that the "agreement provides no less than the fiscal year 2014 level for technical assistance for the UCEDD network." AUCD advocated for this increase and report language as a technical correction to ensure continued funding for technical assistance.  AUCD had been informed that its technical assistance funding was at risk of decreasing dramatically because of the way language in the DD Act is being interpreted.  AUCD continues to work on a more permanent solution to this problem. Other DD programs also fare well.  Developmental Disabilities Councils received $71.7 million, a $816,000 increase (also related to a technical assistance glitch); and Protection and Advocacy Systems receive level-funding. Projects of National Significance (PNS) receives $8.8 million, a slight decrease over FY 2014. National Family Caregivers Support and Lifespan Respite Care Act programs were level funded.

NIDDR, Independent Living, and Assistive Technology

The agreement includes a new general provision to support the transfer of the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, Independent Living, and Assistive Technology Act programs to the Administration for Community Living.  This move is a result of the enactment of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. All three programs are level-funded.

The bill provides $33 million for assistive technology programs, which includes $25.7 million for state grants, $4.3 million for Protection and Advocacy for AT, and $996,000  for technical assistance required under the AT Act's National Activities authority. The agreement includes $2 million for competitive grants to support alternative financing programs that provide for the purchase of AT devices.  The explanatory statement further directs that these funds be used to purchase the full array of AT devices and services. The President's budget proposed cutting these funds.

Health Resources and Services Administration

Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND)

The agreement provides $47 million for the "Autism and other Developmental Disabilities" line item which funds the LEND programs.  The explanatory statement specifically "directs that HRSA provide no less than the fiscal year 2014 level for the LEND program." The LEND program received $28.042 million in FY 2014.  The House explanatory statement further directs HRSA to "ensure that competitive funding opportunities are made available to specifically target innovative diagnosis and treatment models, including the use of tele-health networks to improve the diagnosis and treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders in minority and rural communities."

The bill provides $637 million, a $3 million increase, for the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant programs.  This includes $551.6 million for the state grants and $77 million set aside for the Special Projects of Regional and National Significance (SPRANS).  This "set-aside" is directed toward "oral health, epilepsy, sickle cell, and fetal alcohol syndrome at not less than FY 2014 levels." The MCH Universal Newborn Screening program is level-funded.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The bill provides $131.781 million for the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, an increase of approximately $9 million.  The Limb Loss Resource Center was moved from the CDC to the ACL as a result of this agreement. The agreement includes $64 million for Child Health and Development and $52.4 million for Health and Development of People with Disabilities.  For more information about how the money is allocated within the Center, see pages 24 and 25 of the Explanatory Statement.

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Overall, the funding agreement provides $30 billion for NIH, a $150 million increase over FY 2014.  According to the House Committee's summary, this funding will continue basic bio-medical research and translational research through programs like the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) and Institutional Development Award (IDeA) to help scientists discover cures. It includes specific increases for Alzheimer's, cancer, and brain research, and $12.6 million for the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act pediatric research initiative.

The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which provides core funding for the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers, is provided $1.286 million, an almost $4 million increase over FY 2014.

National Children's Study

While the omnibus agreement states its continued support the mission of the National Children's Study (NCS), the report language (see pg. 48) refers to a recent Institute of Medicine (IOM) report with concerns about recent changes to the study.  The report directs the NIH Director to provide the Appropriations Committees a detailed report (within 90 days of enactment) about next steps regarding the study.  Just days before the bill was passed by the Senate, NICHD Director Alan Guttmacher published a memo stating that the NCS would not be launched and the Vanguard pilot would not continue.  A working group had concluded that the NCS is not feasible as currently designed.  The NCS was authorized by the Children's Health Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-310) to direct NICHD to conduct a national longitudinal study of environmental influences (including physical, chemical, biological, and psychosocial) on child health and development.  Dr. Guttmacher stated that the available funds will be used toward the mission out.  For more information, see the statement of the NIH Director and the working group's final report with its recommendations.  AUCD will continue to monitor these developments.

Administration for Children and Families

The bill provides $17.8 billion for the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a $108 million increase. This includes a $75 million increase for activities within the Child Care and Development Block Grant that was just reauthorized and improved.

Most child welfare programs remain funded at FY14 levels. Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act state grants and the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention funds are all level-funded.


Department of Education

Overall, the bill funds the Department of Education at $70.5 billion, $133million below the fiscal year 2014level.  The President's request of  $75 billion for 10-year investment in the Preschool for All program that was highlighted in his State of the Union address was rejected in the final omnibus agreement.

Special Education

The budget provides $11.5 billion for Part B Special Education Grants to States, a $25 million increase over FY14 funding. The President had proposed a $100 million increase to identify and implement evidence-based reforms and build capacity to improve long-term outcomes for students with disabilities. The budget agreement provides level-funding for the preschool formula grants that assist states in making preschool available to children with disabilities. Part C Grants for Infants and Families - which helps state implement statewide early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities - receives a very small increase to $438.5 million.  The President had proposed a $3.3 million increase for this underfunded program. Part D national programs, including Parent Training & Information Centers, Personnel Development and Preparation, and technology & media programs are all receive level-funding.

Higher Education

Post-Secondary Education for Students with Intellectual Disabilities

The agreement includes $11.8 million, a $2 million increase, for the Model Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID).  This program was zeroed-out in the President's budget request; and support in the Congress for this young program was not guaranteed. Therefore, the funding and the increase is a big win. The funding report language provide by the House Committee directs the additional $2 million to: "support a national coordinating center to conduct and disseminate research on strategies to promote positive academic, social, employment, and independent living outcomes for students with intellectual disabilities. The coordinating center will establish a comprehensive research and evaluation protocol for TPSID programs; administer a mentoring program matching current and new TPSID grantees based on areas of expertise; and coordinate longitudinal follow-up data collection and technical assistance to TPSID grantees on programmatic components and evidence-based practices. The coordinating center will also provide technical assistance to build the capacity of K-12 transition services as well as postsecondary education inclusive practices, among other activities."

Institute for Education Sciences

Special Education Research

The Research in Special Education, administered by the National Center for Special Education Research, and the Special Education Studies and Evaluations are both level funded at $54 million and $10.8 million respectively. The President had proposed a $2.6 million increase for Special Education Studies and Evaluations to support an oversample of special education students in the Middle Grades Longitudinal Study, an evaluation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, and a study of post high school outcomes for youth with disabilities.

Rehabilitation Services and Disability Research

Vocational Rehabilitation state grants received a $33 million increase. However, with strict requirements for state matching funds, not all of that funding always reaches states.

The bill continues to support the Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income (PROMISE) program.  The agreement directs any excess funds to support a new Transition Model System (TMS) to address transitioning youth with disabilities.  Bill report language states that an estimated $15 million will be needed to support the cost of the 5-year TMS project.

The agreement also includes a $1 million increase for the Client Assistance State Grant program to assist transition-aged students with disabilities in subminimum wage positions to obtain competitive integrated employment through advocacy and enforcement under the Rehabilitation Act.


Department of Labor

The final bill provides $11.9 billion for programs within the Department of Labor, a cut of $99 million below FY 2014.  This includes $9.7 billion for the Employment and Training Administration, a decrease of $651 million.  Workforce Investment Act (now Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) programs are provided about a $1.4% increase with $776.7 million going to adult employment and $831.8 million dedicated to Youth Activities. The Office of Disability Employment Policy is provided approximately level-funding.



Now that the Fiscal Year 2015 funding is settled, it's already time to get to work on 2016!  The President's FY 2016 budget request is expected to be delivered in the first two weeks of February, and Congress will begin work on an overall budget soon after.

We expect this budget cycle to be even tougher than the last.  The Budget Control Act caps discretionary funding until 2021. Last year, Representative Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Murray (D-WA) created a bipartisan budget agreement that raised the caps for two years and prevented sequestration (forced across-the-board cuts) from going into effect.  The FY 2016 budget will be subject to tighter caps and the possibility of sequestration.  The Budget Committees will also have new leaders.  Tom Price of Georgia will chair the House Budget Committee. and Jeff Sessions of Alabama or Michael Enzi of Wyoming are vying for the leadership of the Senate Budget Committee.  All are fiscally conservative Members.

AUCD will be working hard to ensure that appropriators understand the value of the University Centers and other programs that support people with disabilities and their families in the community.


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For definitions of terms used in In Brief, please see AUCD's Glossary of Legislative Terms

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