But realize this: EVERYTHING in the stimulus bill is important to the nonprofit sector, not just the pieces that may end up in nonprofit operating budgets. In the lobbying scrum leading up to the House and Senate bills and the final compromise, every subsector weighed in for its potential piece of the nearly $800 billion aimed at stimulating the increasingly moribund U.S. economy. Targeting money to this issue or that isn’t nearly as important as getting the economy going, else the little pieces of the stimulus that some nonprofits think they may have won turn into fool’s gold as joblessness, mortgage foreclosures, and poverty continue to increase across the nation.
Now for the appropriations (remember, these are short term infusions meant to be used quickly, not permanent increases in program appropriation levels):
Rural Housing: The compromise bill reduced the insurance money for rural housing insurance for single family home purchase loans from $500 million in the House bill to a final number of $200 million in budget authority. Everyone should read the appropriation numbers in this program as well as others as meant to leverage additional loan and grant funds.
Rural Community Facilities: The conference report announced a compromise, reducing budget authority for new funds for rural community facilities down from $200 million in the House bill but up from $127 million in the Senate bill to a final number of $130 million.
Women Infants and Children program: The compromise settled on the Senate figure of $500 million as opposed to the $100 million in the House bill for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children.
Emergency Food Assistance Program: The compromise endorses the $150 million figure in the House and Senate bills, but permits up to $50 million to be used for administrative funding. For nonprofit food banks, this is something to watch to see how these admin funds are distributed and used.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (since the fall of 2008, the new name for food stamps): The value of food stamps was increased by 13.6 percent, plus the conference bill allowed for $295 million to be used for state government administrative expenses and $5 million for admin expenses for food distribution on Indian reservations.
Economic Development Assistance: The final bill approves $150 million for economically distressed communities. The legislation includes permission for up to $50 million to “help communities recover from sudden and severe economic dislocation and massive job losses due to corporate restructuring,” which looks like the kind of funding that will help states like Michigan generate new industrial ventures to replace massive shrinkage in threatened sectors such as automotive.
Violence Against Women Prevention and Prosecution: As stated in the draft report, “The conference agreement provides $225,000,000 for Violence Against Women Prevention and Prosecution Programs…of which $175,000,000 is for the STOP Violence Against Women Formula Assistance Program, and $50,000,000 is for transitional housing assistance grants.” In this case, unlike the food stamp program, the conference committee notes that no administrative overhead is permissable from these funds.
Community Development Financial Institutions: The House had a zero on extra funding for CDFIs and the Senate had $250 million. The conferees agreed on a figure of $100 million, not enough to be sure, but it’s good that the Senate reminded the House about the local economic development importance of these community-based lenders (who happen to put many dilatory commercial lenders to shame). It may be very worthwhile for nonprofits to monitor CDFI activities for their impact on stimulating economic development locally and, in the aggregate, nationally.
Small Business Administration loans: The conference agreement topped the $430 million in the House bill and the $621 million in the Senate bill with an appropriation of $636 million for the Business Loans Program. Of that total, the compromise legislation targets $6 million for direct microloans and the remainder for reducing or eliminating fees in 7(a) loan guarantees and for deferred loans to small businesses encountering financial hardship.
Smithsonian: The proposed facilities improvement expenditures for the Smithsonian continued to sink in popularity the more they were considered. The House had $150 million for capital improvements, the Senate cut that to $75 million, and the conferees, after originally zeroing the Smithsonian out entirely, put in $25 million for facilities improvements. This should concern nonprofits, as it returns the Smithsonian to having to pitch for private, frequently corporate contributions to pay for costs that in many cases should be borne by tax expenditures. In the past, the Smithsonian has been a little too quick to toy with agreements with corporate funders to find the capital and operating resources it so desperately needs. Its long history of financial mismanagement, covered frequently in the Cohen Report, may be a contributing factor to the reluctance of the two chambers to put more money into the Smithsonian, but that should be a reminder for the nonprofit sector to take stock of this important component of our nation’s cultural resources and help redefine the posture of both government and philanthropy in this arena.
National Endowment for the Arts: Although zeroed out by the Senate, the conferees agreed with the House’s allocation of $50 million for the NEA, a major accomplishment of the arts sector lobbyists.
YouthBuild: The nation’s foremost program for training and placing young people in the construction trades was bumped to $100 million in the Senate version of the stimulus, but the conferees knocked it back down to a new infusion of $50 million in the final version, which was the number the House had selected. Nonetheless, $50 million is a huge new capital infusion that will challenge the Boston-based nonprofit’s financial and implementation capacities. This will be another nonprofit-focused part of the stimulus warranting close scrutiny regarding how well the sector contributes to this nation’s economic recovery.
Job training and placement: From the draft conference report: “The conference agreement includes $750,000,000 for a .program of competitive grants for worker training and placement in high growth and emerging industry sectors, as proposed by