On April 9, President Biden outlined his Fiscal Year 2022 (FY 2022) budget request for discretionary funding, proposing $1.5 trillion in combined defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) spending. The total request represents a 8.4 percent increase over regular discretionary spending in FY 2021, which excludes any emergency for COVID-19 relief. A more comprehensive annual budget proposal including requests for mandatory programs and changes to the tax code, is expected later this spring. While federal law directs the president to submit his budget request to Congress between the first Monday in January and the first Monday in February, delays in the process are typical when the administration changes.
Now that the President has submitted his discretionary request to lawmakers, appropriators in Congress can begin holding hearings with Cabinet officials and start work on FY 2022 spending bills, which must be enacted by September 30, 2021. However, Congressional Democrats’ plan to potentially pursue a comprehensive infrastructure package—through another round of budget reconciliation using an FY 2021 budget resolution as the vehicle—will likely delay this process.
Along with $753 billion in base and off-budget funding for defense programs (a 1.7 percent increase over FY 2021), the president’s discretionary request calls for $769 billion in total domestic spending, a nearly 16 percent increase over FY 2021 enacted funding (excluding COVID relief.)
Discretionary Fund Request by Agency
Source: President's FY 22 Budget Request.
*Includes Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO) funding **Program level funding excluding offsets from HUD receipts
Along with contributing significant local resources to build and maintain public infrastructure, transportation and economic development assets, provide criminal justice and public safety services, and protect the public’s health and well-being, county governments are key partners in the administration and implementation of various federal programs. Many of these efforts would see significant new resources under the discretionary budget proposal. According to the administration, the discretionary budget proposal aims to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and improve public health infrastructure, improve economic equity, and combat climate change through a government-wide approach. Following those priorities, its largest proposed percentage increases in discretionary funding would come from the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Education, Department of Commerce and Department of Health and Human Services.
Agencies with largest relative increases in President Biden's FY 2022 discretionary request
Note: all proposed funding is discretionary only. FY 2021 figures do not include supplemental funding for COVID-19 relief.
Department of Agriculture | $27.8 billion
(16 percent increase over FY 2021)
Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
Proposes $6.7 billion, a $1 billion increase over FY 2021, to support an anticipated increase in participation and to combat rising food insecurity.
WIC supports early childhood development, a key county priority, through nutrition assistance and service referrals. Though administered at the state level, WIC operates through 1,900 local agencies, including county health departments, at thousands of clinic sites.
U.S. Forest Service Hazardous Fuels Treatment
Proposes $1.7 billion for high-priority hazardous fuels and forest resilience projects, $476 million more than the 2021 enacted level.
The increased threat of wildfire within the National Forest System impacts county emergency services, public health, and environmental quality. Reducing fuel loads on public lands will make combatting wildfire more manageable and improve landscape health.
Rural e-Connectivity (“ReConnect”) Program
Proposes $700 million – an increase of $65 million over FY 2021 – for the Reconnect Program which provides a down payment for grants and loans to deploy broadband to unserved areas.
Advanced telecommunications are critical to the economic vitality of rural America. The lack of broadband infrastructure in rural communities has severely impaired the potential of rural communities to attract and retain new businesses. Increased deployment of advanced technology has major implications for rural counties including improved healthcare services through telemedicine, long distance education, attraction of quality economic development, and improved wages and employment.
Rural Water and Wastewater Program
Proposes $717 million for Rural Water and Wastewater Grants and Loans – an increase of $100 million over FY 2021. This funding includes $25 million for grants targeted to Colonias, Native Americans, and Alaska Native Villages and $75 million for grants targeted to rural, poor communities.
Critical infrastructure, such as water and wastewater, remain a priority for many rural communities. Beyond the public health interests, clean and reliable water is a necessity to spur economic growth.
USDA Research, Education and Outreach Programs
Proposes $4 billion, or $647 million above the FY 2021, for USDA’s research, education, and outreach programs. These investments in agricultural research would advance innovation and the application of science-based and data driven tools to put American technologies into the hands of farmers.
Across the country, counties partner with federal, state, local and tribal governments; public and private sector interests; non-profit organizations; and colleges and land-grant universities to fund community outreach and educational initiatives.
Rural/Agricultural Conservation Initiative
Proposes an increase of $161 million from FY 2021 enacted level to support a multi-agency initiative to integrate science-based tools into conservation planning in order to measure, monitor, report, and verify carbon sequestration, greenhouse gas reduction, wildlife stewardship, and other environmental services at the farm level and on Federal lands.
Programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP), Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP), Conservation Security Program (CSP), and others are important sources for technical assistance and are needed to help communities implement many important conservation measures.
Rural Electric Grant and Loan Programs
Proposes $6.5 billion in loan authority for rural electric loans, an increase of $1 billion over the 2021 enacted level, to support additional clean energy, energy storage, and transmission projects. The discretionary request also provides $400 million in new funding to give rural electric providers financial flexibility as they accelerate to carbon-pollution free electricity by 2035.
Combating Rural Poverty
Proposes $32 million for a renewed and expanded initiative to leverage USDA’s extensive network of offices to help people in high poverty communities tap into Federal resources, referred to as the “Strikeforce” initiative. USDA would coordinate with other Federal agencies on an all-of-Government approach to connect rural stakeholders with Federal programs and resources.
According to the USDA and the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly 10 percent of the nation’s counties are persistently poor rural counties.
USDA is establishing an Equity Commission to review how current farm programs may have contributed to racial and geographic inequities for farmers. In addition, the discretionary request significantly increases the budget for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights at USDA.
Food Safety and Inspection Service
The discretionary request proposes $1.2 billion, an increase of $74 million over the 2021 enacted level, for the Food Safety and Inspection Service to bolster the capacity of small and regional meat processing establishments and ensure safe food production.
Protecting the welfare of all American consumers, especially our children, is the responsibility of public officials. Maintaining confidence in our nation’s food supply benefits agricultural producers and food manufacturers located throughout our nation.
Agriculture Marketing Service
Proposes $15 million for the local agriculture marketing program to support local supply chains. In addition, the request supports fulfillment of the Administration’s promise to strengthen anti-trust enforcement within the agriculture sector.
The ability of county governments to provide services financed by property and other local taxes is dependent on farm income and rural business. Agriculture is a key component of economic development and should be included in any comprehensive rural development program. Counties support investments in infrastructure, entrepreneurship programs and facilities that process, distribute, and develop value-added products using locally-grown commodities purchased from local farmers to meet the demand for local, healthy food.
Department of Commerce | $11.4 billion
(28 percent increase over FY 2021)
Economic Development Administration (EDA)
Proposes $384 million, a $38 million increase over FY 2021, to support locally driven economic development projects. Of this amount, $84 million is allocated for Assistance to Coal Communities program, to drive economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development and reemployment opportunities in communities impacted by changes in the coal economy.
EDA spurs economic development and job creation in local communities impacted by economic downturn or disaster and is particularly important for rural counties where resources are often scarce.
Department of Education | $102.8 billion
(41-percent increase over FY 2021)
Proposes significant new dollars for disadvantaged students, including $30.5 billion for high-poverty schools through Title I Grants to States (a $20 billion increase) and $15.7 billion for special education through the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA), a $2.5 billion increase over FY 2021.
County governments fully or partially fund school districts in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Alaska. Even in states where counties are not responsible for overseeing school districts, county governments share a tax base with those school districts and often provide complementary services to participating children.
Department of Energy | $46.1 billion
(10.2 percent increase over FY 2021)
Clean Energy Initiative and Grant Program
Proposes $1.9 billion to create a new Building Clean Energy Projects and Workforce Initiative at DOE to support the transition toward a net zero energy sector by 2035. As part of this investment, it also proposes creating a new Build Back Better Challenge Grant Program for state and local governments to deploy clean energy to underserved or overburdened communities.
Counties support federal financial assistance to local governments to implement innovative regional approaches for reducing air pollution, including locally driven actions that include energy efficiency, renewable energy projects and cross jurisdictional legislative actions.
Department of Health and Human Services | $131.7 billion
(23.5 percent increase over FY 2021)
Public Health Infrastructure
Proposes $8.7 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an increase of $1.6 billion over the 2021 enacted level, for core public health capacity improvements in states, counties and territories, to modernize public health data collection, and strengthen the public health workforce.
Counties invest $100 billion annually in community health systems which work to prepare and respond to existing and emerging public health crises. Counties support building and maintaining a robust public health infrastructure through federal investments.
Combatting the Opioid Epidemic
Proposes $10.7 billion in funding to go towards efforts to combat the opioid crisis, which includes money for states and tribes, accessing medication-assisted treatment, research, and the expansion of the behavioral health workforce. The request is an increase of $3.9 billion over FY 2021 enacted levels.
Counties are leaders serve on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic, driving local efforts to combat opioid misuse and overdose in their communities by leveraging federal funding for research, enforcement, treatment and education.
Community Mental Health Services Block Grant
Proposes $1.6 billion for the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant, an increase of $800 million over FY 2021 enacted levels.
Counties plan and operate community-based services for persons with mental illness and substance abuse conditions through 750 behavioral health authorities and community health providers. Counties utilize the Community Mental Health Service Block Grant to provide a range of services for adults and children with serious mental illnesses.
Social Determinants of Health Program
Proposes $153 million for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Social Determinants of Health program, an increase of $150 million over FY 2021 levels. The program provides grants to states and territories to improve health equity and data collection for racial and ethnic populations.
Counties support federal investments that aid local governments in working to ensure equitable health outcomes for all residents.
Proposes $670 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the Indian Health Services (HIS) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to reduce new HIV cases, expand access to treatment, and ensure equitable access to service and supports. The request is an increase of $267 million over the FY 2021 level.
The Ending the HIV Epidemic Initiative currently provides funding and resources direct to 48 counties to reduce new HIV infections by 75 percent by 2025, and by 90 percent over the next 10 years.
New Community-Based Violence Intervention Initiative
Proposes $100 million in new funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to start a new Community Based Violence Intervention Initiative in collaboration with the Department of Justice (DOJ). The initiative will implement evidence-based community violence interventions at the local level.
Counties support federal investments in local community violence data collection and research, as well as the development of local prevention strategies aimed at the reduction of community violence.
Child Care and Development Block Grant
Proposes $7.4 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, an increase of $1.5 billion over FY 2021.
Counties in eight states are responsible for administering CCDBG, which provides subsidies for low-income families to access affordable, high quality child care.
Requests $11.9 billion for Head Start, an increase of $1.2 billion over FY 2021.
Many county governments play an important role in the operation of Head Start and Early Head Start programs, whether by serving as one of the nation’s 1,600 local grantees and/or contributing funding to the Head Start program’s non-federal match requirement or to expand the program within their jurisdiction.
New child welfare competitive grants
Proposes $100 million in new competitive grants for states and localities to advance reforms that would reduce the overrepresentation of children and families of color in the child welfare system and address the disparate experiences and outcomes of these families.
Counties are fully or partially responsible for operating the child welfare system in 11 states.
Within HRSA, the discretionary request increases funding to help rural healthcare providers stay open and care for their rural communities, increase funding for rural residency programs, and ensure coal miners and their families receive health benefits. The discretionary request also funds efforts to increase the number of individuals from rural areas going to medical school or other training programs and returning or staying in rural communities to provide care, with a focus on primary care physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and other in-demand providers.
The healthcare industry is a vital economic development engine for rural America and access to affordable healthcare is essential to spur new businesses.
Department of Homeland Security | $52.0 billion
(0.2 percent increase over FY 2021)
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)
Requests $2.1 billion for CISA to enhance cybersecurity tools and resources available to communities to protect and defend information technology systems, representing a $110 million increase over FY 2021.
CISA provides a range of programs and services to help state, local, tribal, territorial and other organizations, including county governments, better manage risk and increase resilience of critical infrastructure using all available resources.
Supporting local efforts to combat terrorism
Proposes $131 million for programs to prevent and combat terrorism at the local level, including $20 million for grants to prevent targeted violence and $75 million for FEMA’s Homeland Security Grant Program.
These programs assist state and local governments in building and sustaining the capabilities necessary to mitigate and respond to acts of terrorism.
Increases investment in state and local disaster resilience
Requests $540 million for state and local communities to incorporate climate impacts into pre-disaster planning and resilience efforts and increase the number of FEMA staff equipped to support communities before and after a disaster strikes.
Counties support the allocation of federal resources for disaster planning, mitigation and recovery to both state and local governments.
Department of Housing and Urban Development | $68.7 billion
(15.1 percent increase over FY 2021)
Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)
Proposes $3.8 billion for CDBG, a $295 million increase over FY 2021.
Seventy percent of CDBG funds are distributed to over 1200 local jurisdictions, including urban counties with populations over 200,000 not including their largest metropolitan city, to support community and economic development and human services needs in local communities.
HOME Investment Partnerships (HOME) Program
Proposes $1.9 billion for HOME, a $500 million increase over the FY 2021 level.
The majority of HOME funds (60 percent) are distributed to 647 local jurisdictions, including urban counties with populations over 200,000 not including their largest metropolitan city, to provide affordable housing to low-income families.
Homeless Assistance Grants
Proposes $3.5 billion for homeless assistance, a $500 million increase over FY 2021 to assist 100,000 additional households, including survivors of domestic violence and homeless youth.
Counties provide services to residents at risk of or experiencing homelessness and support increased funding to combat homelessness in local communities.
Housing Choice Vouchers
Proposes $30.4 billion for Section 8 housing vouchers, a $4.6 billion increase over FY 2021, which would allow an additional 200,000 more families to receive vouchers, with a focus on those who are homeless or fleeing domestic violence.
Counties support increasing the supply of housing choice vouchers to assist with providing affordable housing for families.
Department of the Interior | $17.4 billion
(16.3 percent increase over FY 2021)
Remediation and Reclamation of Abandoned Wells and Mines
Doubles FY 2021 funding to $450 million for DOI to remediate and reclaim many of the thousands of orphaned oil and gas wells and reclaim abandoned mines.
Hazardous materials can leak from abandoned wells and mines, contaminating air and water, harming public health, polluting the environment and increasing costs to local governments.
Hazardous Fuels Reduction on Public Lands
Proposes $340 million for high-priority hazardous fuels and forest resilience projects on U.S. Department of the Interior lands. This is an increase of $120 million for FY 2021.
The increased threat and severity of wildfire impacts county emergency services, public health, and environmental quality. Reducing hazardous fuel loads on public lands will make combatting wildfire more manageable and improve landscape health.
Department of Justice | $35.2 billion
(5.3 percent increase over FY 2021)
Supporting police-community relationships
Requests $1.2 billion for programs at DOJ that support police-community relationships, including the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) hiring program, a $304 million increase from FY 2021. C
COPS grants – and other community-based policing resources – support critical local law enforcement with the tools, personnel and trainings necessary to protect and serve our communities.
Investing in local criminal justice reform efforts
Proposes $1.5 billion for grants that support state and local criminal justice reform efforts, including funding for Juvenile Justice Programs, drug and mental health court programs and Second Chance Act grants, a $554 million increase over FY 2021.
These programs support state, local and tribal government efforts to develop and implement effective and innovative programs that address juvenile crime, crime prevention, courts and corrections, recidivism rates and victims’ services.
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
Proposes $1 billion for the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 programs, an approximately $500 million increase over FY 2021 levels.
VAWA programs support counties and other communities in developing resources and services to respond to and prevent domestic violence.
Addressing the sexual assault kit backlog
Requests $120 million to the Office of Justice Programs to address the sexual assault kit backlog and to fund a new Regional Sexual Assault Investigative Training Academies program, representing a $72 million increase over FY 2021 levels.
Department of Labor | $14.2 billion
(14 percent increase over FY 2021)
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
Proposes $3.7 billion, a $203 million increase over FY 2021 for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) State Grants to make employment services and training available to more dislocated workers, low-income adults, and disadvantaged youth hurt by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Counties receive WIOA funding from states to support employment and training opportunities for youth, adults and dislocated workers and support increased funding to meet demands of jobseekers and businesses.
Proposes $285 million, a $100 million increase above the 2021 enacted level, to expand registered apprenticeship opportunities while increasing access for historically underrepresented groups, including people of color and women, and diversifying the industry sectors involved.
Counties support funding apprenticeships to expand opportunities for jobseekers to develop and enhance workforce development skills and job opportunities.
Department of Transportation | $25.6 billion
(1.2 percent increase over FY 2021)
Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Grant Program
Proposes $1 billion for BUILD grants, representing a flat funding level with FY 2021.
Counties utilize BUILD’s flexible funds to carry out local infrastructure projects, including those located on the 45 percent of public roads and 38 percent of public bridges owned and operated by counties, without the additional burden of applying for funds through state departments of transportation.
Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Program
Proposes $2.5 billion for CIG, representing a 24 percent increase from FY 2021.
Low- and No-Emissions Grant Program
Proposes $250 million in grants to transit agencies to facilitate the transition of public transit bus fleets away from motor fuels, representing a 100 percent increase from FY 2021.
Counties directly support 78 percent of public transit systems that, in the face of unprecedented drops in ridership and revenue, are continuing to keep Americans connected to vital services during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
New intercity rail grant program
Proposes $625 million for a new passenger rail competitive grant program to promote “competitive, low-carbon options for intercity travel.”
Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement Grant Program
Proposes $375 million to improve safety and enhance the reliability of the nation’s freight and passenger rail networks, representing a flat funding level with FY 2021.
Counties support expanding and improving freight and passenger rail service, including long-distance passenger rail and regional and high-speed rail, while providing needed regulatory reform at the federal level. Counties also believe that Congress should provide assistance to local governments for the rehabilitation, preservation and improvement of freight rail lines to maintain and improve the movement of goods.
Proposes $2.7 billion for Amtrak to make capital improvements and to expand the Northeast Corridor and the National Network, representing a 35 percent increase from FY 2021.
Counties believe that Congress should continue to provide subsidies to Amtrak at a level consistent with maintaining a reasonable level of service and to provide necessary capital improvements with appropriate accountability controls.
New Thriving Communities Initiative Pilot Program
Proposes $110 million through grants and technical assistance to communities to improve transportation equity.
Department of Veterans Affairs | $113.1 billion
(8.2 percent increase over FY 2021)
Suicide Prevention & New Healthcare Services
Proposes $542 million, nearly $230 million over FY 2021, for existing programs dedicated to veteran suicide prevention outreach. Also proposes $500 million to fund new suicide prevention, homelessness and health programs for veterans authorized by Congress.
Benefit Claims Processing
Requests $40.3 million in new funds to hire 334 new benefits claims processors to support the processing disability compensation claims for new Agent Orange presumptive conditions.
Proposes $2.1 billion for veterans’ homelessness programs, an increase of 4.4 percent over FY 2021, to further the Administration’s goal of achieving a systematic end to veteran homelessness.
Counties are key partners with the federal government in serving our veterans, including by funding County Veteran Service Officers to help former service members claim VA health and disability benefits, providing mental and behavioral health services, and implementing programs to combat veteran homelessness.
Department of Treasury | $14.9 billion
(10.6 percent increase over FY 2021)
Investments in American Communities and Small Businesses
Proposes $330 million (a 21 percent increase over FY 2021) to expand the role of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), which offer loans to start-ups and small businesses to promote affordable housing and community revitalization projects.
Small businesses represent 99 percent of all businesses across the nation and half of all private- sector employment. Local small businesses recirculate dollars back into local economies, contribute to county tax revenue and represent a vital component of community identity. The COVID-19 outbreak and ensuing social distance and business restrictions have put the small business community in a dire situation. Counties across the country have acted swiftly and creatively to support small businesses with needed cashflow and practical guidance.
Environmental Protection Agency | $11.2 billion (21.3 percent increase over FY 2021)
Proposes $3.6 billion for water infrastructure grants, a $625 million increase over FY 2021.
Counties utilize EPA water infrastructure grants to make critical system upgrades for community water systems, schools and households, as well as to improve drinking water and wastewater infrastructure.
Proposes $882 million for the Superfund Remedial Program, representing a 26.5 percent decrease from FY 2021. Seeks increased funding for the Brownfields Program.
Counties support the reauthorization of the Superfund program to continue identification, evaluation and control of existing hazardous waste disposal sites with the primary source of cleanup funds continuing to be the parties responsible for the disposal of toxic wastes.
Proposes $75 million to expedite studies and other research and development activities around PFAS chemicals, to establish enforceable limits and to provide technical assistance grants to state and local governments who have contaminated sites within their jurisdictions, representing a 41.5 percent increase from FY 2021.
As owners, users and regulators of water resources, counties are directly impacted by PFAS contamination and support efforts by the EPA to study health and environmental impacts of PFAS compounds.
Army Corps of Engineers | $6.8 billion
(12.9 percent decrease from FY 2021)
Investments in local water infrastructure: Proposes investments in projects to:
- Assist local governments in identifying and addressing climate related risks and improve the resilience of Corps infrastructure
- Expedite and improve the delivery of water resource projects through greater non-federal and remove barriers preventing state and local governments and private entities from investing in their respective water infrastructure priorities
- Facilitate commercial navigation
- Reduce risks associated with storm damage
- Restore aquatic ecosystems
As major owners, users and regulators of water resources and systems with the responsibility for funding 95 percent of all local public water infrastructure needs, counties have a long-standing partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers to improve local water infrastructure. Additionally, counties invest $134 billion annually in the construction of infrastructure and the maintenance and operation of public works, including public water systems and water infrastructure projects.
As with every year, while the president’s budget request signals the administration’s key spending priorities, it is Congress that must ultimately negotiate and pass appropriations bills to fund the government. In recent years, the government has struggled to meet this deadline and instead passed temporary extensions of current spending levels, known as continuing resolutions, well into the new fiscal year. Additionally, over the last decade, discretionary spending has been constrained by the Budget Control Act of 2010 (BCA), which enacted caps on defense and non-defense spending with the intention of curbing the federal deficit.
Base Discretionary Budget Authority, FY 2012 - FY 2022 Proposal
Source: Congressional Research Service (CRS) the Budget control Act: Frequently Asked Questions; Biden FY 22 Discretionary Request
Note: Base budget authority excludes Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) and other emergency spending
FY 2022 represents the first appropriations process since the BCA’s expiration—meaning Congress must come to an agreement on top-line spending numbers before appropriations work can begin. Already, Biden’s proposal to spend more on domestic programs than defense programs has proved unpopular with Republicans—while certain progressive Democrats contend that the proposed spending on defense is too large. Along with these challenges, Democrats’ narrow majority in the House and Senate—coupled with an ambitious legislative agenda that may rely on additional budget reconciliation measures—are likely to create significant hurdles for the completion of a regular appropriations process by September 30, and it is possible that Congress will need to pass a short-term extension of FY 2021 funding levels.
NACo will continue to monitor the federal budget and appropriations process and its implications for county governments.Standard