Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, announced that the fiscal year (FY) 2020 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill was signed into law last night. This legislation will make critical improvements to Maine’s transportation infrastructure, promote economic development, and provide housing assistance for the most vulnerable populations.
“At its core, this legislation is about creating and sustaining jobs through investments that make critical improvements to our infrastructure and provide housing assistance to low-income families. It also contains key reforms, such as improving oversight of the FAA’s aviation safety and aircraft certification programs,” said Senator Collins. “As the Chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, I have championed funding for these important programs, and I will continue to work to improve Maine’s infrastructure.”
Earlier this year, Senator Collins delivered remarks from the Senate floor urging her colleagues to support the FY 2020 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill, which provides $74.3 billion in new funding, $3.2 billion more than last year. Provisions secured by Senator Collins that will benefit Maine include:
Department of Transportation:
· BUILD Grants: The bill includes $1 billion for BUILD grants, which provide federal assistance for vital transportation projects across the country. Since the program’s inception in 2009, Maine has received a BUILD grant each year, totaling $205 million, due to Senator Collins’ advocacy.
· Aviation: The bill fully funds the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) safety programs to address safety concerns raised by two recent Boeing 737-MAX crashes. An increase of $67 million is provided to hire staff with specialized expertise, such as in human factors, as well as to improve training of aviation safety inspectors. The FAA is also directed to respond to all recommendations issued by the various investigations and audits and to finalize a rulemaking requiring aviation manufacturers to establish a safety management system (SMS). The bill also includes $162 million for the Essential Air Service (EAS) Program, which provides commercial air service to Augusta/Waterville, Bar Harbor, Presque Isle/Houlton, and Rockland, and $3.75 billion for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP) to improve our nation’s airports. The bill continues to provide $5 million for the FAA’s work on a statewide helicopter route system to help LifeFlight of Maine to fly in poor weather conditions under instrument flight rules.
· Highway and Bridge Funding Increase: The bill funds the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) at $49.3 billion, of which $2.2 billion is provided from the general fund. Of this amount, $1.15 billion is for bridge repairs and rehabilitation, which will provide $35 million for Maine’s bridges; and $781 million for highway formula programs, which will provide $3.6 million for Maine’s highways.
· State Maritime Academies: The bill includes $300 million for a new training ship for Maine Maritime Academy (MMA), and an additional $5 million in direct support, tuition assistance, ship-sharing and fuel payments for MMA. Click HERE to read more.
· Small Shipyard Grants: The bill includes $20 million for the Maritime Administration’s Small Shipyard Grant program, which helps small shipyards improve the efficiency of their operations by providing for equipment and other facility upgrades. Maine shipyards have benefitted from this program, including Rockland Marine Corporation, Washburn & Doughty Associates, Inc., of East Boothbay, and Front Street Shipyard of Belfast.
· Port Infrastructure Development Program. The bill provides $225 million for port grants for projects that improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of the movement of goods at ports. The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) is directed to prioritize applications that are less than $10 million from small ports, and such applications can receive a Federal cost-share above 80 percent.
Housing and Urban Development:
· Homelessness Prevention: The bill includes more than $2.8 billion to help communities design and implement local solutions to end homelessness. Of this amount, $2.8 billion is included for the Homeless Assistance Grant program in order to fully meet the program’s renewal need, and includes $280 million for Emergency Solutions Grants, $80 million in funding targeted for homeless youth, and $50 million for new rapid rehousing projects that serve victims and survivors of domestic violence. The bill also includes $20 million for new family unification vouchers to prevent youth exiting foster care from becoming homeless, and $40 million for new HUD-VASH vouchers to reduce veterans’ homelessness. Since the HUD-VASH program was first established in 2008, Maine has received 238 vouchers to support homeless veterans. Click HERE to read more.
· Lead Grants: The bill includes $290 million to combat lead hazards, $11 million above last year’s level. This will fund intensive interventions in communities with very high incidences of lead paint. These multi-year projects can dramatically reduce lead-based paint hazards in Maine communities with old housing that are in greatest need for lead remediation. Under Chairman Collins’ leadership, funding for the lead hazard program has nearly tripled since 2015.
· Community Development Block Grants (CDBG): The bill includes $3.4 billion for the CDBG program, which helps state and local governments promote economic development and job creation.
· Housing during substance abuse recovery. The bill provides $25 million for assistance to States to provide stable, temporary housing to individuals recovering from substance abuse. States including Maine, with high rates of overdose deaths will receive funding.
· Housing for the Elderly: In addition to fully funding the renewal of existing rental assistance for seniors, the bill includes $90 million for new construction of senior housing and $10 million for grants for home modifications to enable low-income seniors to “age in place’ and remain in their own homes.