Following President Donald Trump signing the Fiscal Year 2018 Government Funding bill into law today, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced the bill contains resources to support a number of important Kentucky institutions and programs. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator McConnell advocated for these important programs in the legislation, and shepherded the bill to Senate passage earlier today.
Senator McConnell said: “As Senate Majority Leader, I am pleased to continue securing important resources for Kentucky that are crucial to the future of our state. Kentucky families know the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic, and that is why I prioritized $4.6 billion to fight the scourge of addiction through comprehensive prevention, treatment, and enforcement efforts to help save lives. The legislation also will fund long-overdue improvements for Kentucky’s transportation and inland waterways systems, including $175 million for the Olmsted Locks and Dam project.
“For servicemembers at Kentucky’s essential military installations – Fort Knox, Fort Campbell, the Blue Grass Army Depot, as well as the Kentucky National Guard – it delivers the largest year-on-year increase in funding in more than a decade. It also delivers the largest pay raise for our troops in 8 years.
“The measure allocates new resources to support economic growth and infrastructure development in Eastern Kentucky through the Appalachian Regional Commission. In addition, it provides millions of dollars in new funding to deploy broadband Internet services to rural states like Kentucky. This legislation will also support school safety so that our students can learn in a secure environment.
“Hearing from passionate Kentuckians from across the Commonwealth, I was proud to ensure that each of these provisions were included because they will have a positive impact on our communities.”
The FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill contains the following important Kentucky priorities secured by Senator McConnell:
· Directs the Department of Interior to establish the Green River National Wildlife Refuge to support conservation, hunting and fishing opportunities in Western Kentucky.
· Ensures funds remain available for construction of a federal prison in Letcher County, Kentucky.
Over $205 million to support cleanup and deactivation work at Paducah’s Department of Energy site, which supports over 1,000 jobs in Western Kentucky.
· $175 million for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) Olmsted Locks and Dam project and funding for other important infrastructure projects that help Kentucky’s inland waterways workers move agriculture and coal products more efficiently to market.
· $155 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), which will help support economic development in Eastern Kentucky. This ARC funding includes $50 million to support communities hurt by the downturn in the coal sector, $10 million for high-speed broadband deployment in distressed counties within Central Appalachia, and $6 million for basic infrastructure improvements in Central Appalachia.
· $30 million through the Department of Labor (DOL) to provide training and employment services to dislocated coal workers. Sen. McConnell has helped secure similar DOL funding for the Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Program’s Hiring Our Miners Everyday (HOME) initiative, which has provided job training and employment services to thousands of Kentuckians.
· $75 million for the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) pilot program — $25 million of which will go to Kentucky. Sen. McConnell worked with Rep. Hal Rogers to help establish this pilot in 2015 to support economic development in coal communities. This funding will supplement the annual AML reclamation funding the state receives for the reclamation of abandoned mine sites. FY 2016 and FY 2017 appropriations from this program have already funded several successful projects in Kentucky.
· Language maintained from FY 2016 and FY 2017 to support the transportation of industrial hemp grown in compliance with the enacted 2014 Farm Bill.
· $25 million for the Delta Regional Authority to support economic and infrastructure development in communities in the Mississippi Delta region, including a number of counties in Western Kentucky.
· Over $961 million for chemical agents and munitions destruction funding – $831.9 million of which will go to DOD’s Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives program – to support chemical demilitarization efforts at the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond.
· $9 million for the Air National Guard Response Forces Facility in Louisville.
· Over $236 million for the National Guard Counter-Drug program which supports the Kentucky National Guard’s marijuana eradication program in Eastern Kentucky.
· Includes a provision to support Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College (SKCTC) and their students at their five campuses in Cumberland, Harlan, Middlesboro, Pineville, and Whitesburg, by providing flexibility to the U.S. Department of Education to account for economic conditions when deciding which schools may continue participating in the federal student aid program.
· Over $9 million in Department of Education funding to support work colleges like Berea College and Alice Lloyd College in Kentucky.
· Over $27 million — a $2 million increase — for the Printing House for the Blind in Louisville to continue its important work to create products for visually impaired students and people across the country.
· Extends for two years, the Secure Rural Schools program, an initiative that provides compensation to counties with a low tax base, due to the presence of federal forestlands, with funds to help provide for essential county services such as operating schools for their residents. This will benefit counties in Eastern and Western Kentucky, including those around the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area and the Daniel Boone National Forest.
Senator McConnell also advocated for the following national programs that will benefit Kentucky:
Provides $4.6 billion to fight the opioid epidemic, which is a $3 billion increase from last year’s funding level. The legislation will allow Kentucky to continue to address this problem in a comprehensive way through prevention, treatment, and enforcement. This funding amount includes:
$280 million for the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program which will provide resources to and support coordination between federal, state and local law enforcement officials in Kentucky’s HIDTA areas.
$100 million for a new program — Rural Communities Opioids Response – to support treatment for and prevention of substance use disorders, with a focus on rural communities at the highest risk for substance use disorder.
$415 million to expand behavioral health and substance abuse disorder prevention and treatment services and facilitate the development of an appropriately trained workforce, especially in rural communities.
$500 million for a new initiative for research related to opioid addiction, development of opioid alternatives, pain management, and addiction treatment.
$1 billion for a new State Opioid Response Grant Program, with additional resources set aside for states that have been particularly hard hit by the opioid epidemic, including Kentucky.
o $330 million to fund DOJ’s programs under the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA), a $227 million increase over FY2017. This includes a $132 million increase to expand the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program (COAP) offerings to include prevention and education programs for youth, community engagement by law enforcement, response teams to assist children dealing with the aftermath of opioid addiction, and family court programming relating to treatment for opioids.
· A total of $40 million for the COPS Anti-Heroin and Anti-Methamphetamine Task Force programs, which support local law enforcement agencies in their efforts to investigate the unlawful distribution of heroin, prescription opioids, and methamphetamines.
· $415 million for the Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) program to help local communities meet law enforcement needs.
· $177.5 million to address rape kit and other DNA evidence backlogs via Community Teams to Reduce the Sexual Assault Kit program, and DNA Initiatives including the Debbie Smith program.
· Record level $81.5 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs to fund veteran health care, benefits, memorial services, opioid addiction treatment, caregiver services, and homeless assistance.
· Over $726 million for the Fossil Energy Research Program, which supports the development of clean coal technology.
· $700 million for the Federal Emergency Management’s competitive Fire and SAFER grant program to help local communities meet fire response needs.
· $400 million for the Department of Education’s charter school program to assist with the startup costs associated with opening or expanding charter schools, important support for Kentucky as the new Republican majority in Frankfort recently passed a new charter schools law.
· $600 million in new funding to expand and deploy broadband Internet access to residents in rural communities.
· Removes a burdensome paperwork and reporting requirement for livestock farmers that subjected their farms to similar requirements as those of toxic and hazardous waste sites.
· Increases the maximum Pell grant award to $6,095 and maintains year round access to pell grants.