County Countdown – Jan. 22, 2024

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Every other week, NACo’s County Countdown reviews top federal policy advocacy items with an eye towards counties and the intergovernmental partnership.

Watch the video above and explore NACo resources below.

1. Government Funding

On January 14th, Congress unveiled a new Continuing Resolution to extend federal appropriations. The resolution passed, avoiding a partial government shutdown and extending funding through early March.

  • Counties need a long-term solution: This extension maintains existing program funding temporarily, yet a long-term funding solution is needed.
  • What happens next: In the absence of a long-term solution, discussions will resume in the coming weeks in efforts to avoid a shutdown once again when funding expires March 1 and March 8.

2. Bipartisan Tax Framework

The U.S. Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee introduced the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024 on January 16.

  • Highlights for counties: The bill proposes expansions in the Child Tax Credit and the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit.
  • Missing in action: The bill does not address relief from the $10,000 State and Local Tax (SALT) deduction cap, a critical issue for counties.
  • Advocacy underway: While a timeline for consideration of the bill is uncertain, we continue to push for the inclusion of county priorities.

3. SALT Deduction Cap

The recent tax framework notably excludes changes to the $10,000 cap on the SALT deduction, which merits a bit of a deep dive.

  • County stance: NACo supports the full deductibility of state and local taxes and urges Congress to provide SALT cap relief.
  • Collaborative efforts: Working with the National League of Cities, NACo seeks congressional support for SALT cap relief through joint advocacy efforts.

4. Nutrition Assistance Shortfall

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is warning of a critical $1 billion shortfall in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), jeopardizing critical nutrition assistance for vulnerable residents.

  • 2 million county residents potentially impacted: This shortfall will mean states may need to create waitlists for new applicants and existing participants who are up for benefit renewals, and could have to turn away as many as 2 million vulnerable county residents from this important support.
  • Advocacy priority: NACo advocates for complete funding of WIC in the 2024 budget to ensure uninterrupted access to the program.

5. New Transportation Funding

Last last year, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced $9.7 billion in funding for the Bridge Investment Program.

  • Enhancing county infrastructure: This funding is an opportunity for counties to enhance local infrastructure through bridge rehabilitation and new construction projects.
  • How to utilize: Counties can utilize this funding for contracting and planning bridges, with applications open now.

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