Last week, June 16th and 18th respectively, House and Senate appropriators passed legislation out of the Appropriations Committees that drastically cut the infrastructure construction financing through the EPA’s State Revolving Funds. These job killing and infrastructure damaging cuts seriously jeopardize America’s future health, safety, economy, and unemployment.
The FY16’ House Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill contains $1.018 billion for the EPA’s Clean Water SRF and $757 million for the Drinking Water SRF for a total SRF appropriation of $1.775 billion. The FY16’ Senate Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill would appropriate $1.8 billion in total for the Clean Water SRF and the Drinking water SRF. This amounts to $579 million in cuts from the House plan and $554 million in cuts from the Senate plan from last year (FY15) enacted levels. In other words, Congress is proposing to cut the SRF programs, which provide essential water infrastructure construction financing assistance that states and municipalities cannot shoulder alone, by 25 percent. For comparison, President Obama’s FY16 budget proposed $1.116 for the Clean Water SRF and $1.186 for Drinking Water SRF for a total of $2.302 billion, or $527 million more than the House proposal and $502 million more than the Senate proposal, but still $52 million less than FY15 enacted levels.
The SRF program has proven incredibly successful with states in financing drastically needing water infrastructure improvements, repairs, replacements, and expansions. There is almost no end to the work needed for these systems and the SRF has proven year-after-year to be a single crutch states and municipalities can rely on to ensure Americans have access to clean and safe water.
What’s even more frustrating and disheartening is that by the Senate Appropriations Committee’s own website’s admission, when compared to fiscal year 2015, the Senate bill would result in 230 fewer water infrastructure projects, 14,000 fewer jobs and $1 billion less in matching fund investments from states. Appropriators know the damage this bill will do to local construction and local economies, and they’re choosing to do it anyway.
At a time when America’s economy continues to struggle to find growth, Congress should be focusing on proven ways to stimulate the economy by investing in water infrastructure and ensuring clean and safe access to water infrastructure that every American relies on and expects.
The CWC has judiciously and repeatedly discussed the economic benefits of investing in water infrastructure. We will continue to shout that message. We are frustrated with House and Senate Appropriators who know the damage they are causing, but embolden to work to reverse these terrible, nonsensical, and dangerous cuts.