Washington Snapshot - September 9, 2016

Congress IconNews from the Hill

Chairman Roskam to Hold Another Hearing on University Endowments

This Tuesday, Chariman of the Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee, Peter Roskam (R-IL) announced the latest in a series of hearings to scrutinize the use and management of college and university endowments.

The hearing, entitled “Back to School: Review of Tax-Exempt College and University Endowments” is scheduled to take place next Tuesday, September 13th at 10:00am ET. Witnesses for this hearing have not yet been announced, but we have been in contact with Chairman Roskam’s office and will continue to engage on the matters raised during this hearing.

Members of our policy team will attend this hearing next week. If you have questions or would like to learn more, please contact us at govt@cof.org.

Congress Must Address Spending Legislation Before Month Ends

Now that Congress is back in Washington after a 7-week recess, the number one issue is to pass a spending bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017—which begins on October 1, 2016.

With Congress scheduled to adjourn in October to wrap-up campaigning before the November elections, the pressure is on to pass legislation that would avoid a government shutdown. As it seems, the most likely option for this legislation will be a Continuing Resolution (CR)—a short term spending bill that would take effect October 1st and give Congress additional time to agree upon more comprehensive spending legislation for FY 2017.

As is often the case in an election year, passing any spending legislation comes with the challenge of strong partisanship. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has already begun conversations on alternative strategies for funding the government through FY 2017.

Senator Wyden Releases Discussion Draft for RISE Act

This Thursday, Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) of the Senate Finance Committee released a discussion draft of a bill entitled the Retirement Improvements and Savings Enhancements (RISE) Act.

The proposal would make it easier for recent college grads and working families to save for retirement and would also make it more difficult for mega ROTH IRA’s to grow even larger. Among other provisions, the bill would allow employers to make “matching” contributions to a 401(k) retirement plan while their employees make student loan repayments. It would also prohibit further contributions to a ROTH IRA if its total value exceeds $5 million.

You can learn more about this legislation in a recent Wall Street Journal report.

State Policy IconHappening in the States

Exclusive from our colleagues at the National Council of Nonprofits.

National Council of Nonprofits logo

Exclusive from our Colleagues at the National Council of Nonprofits.

States Face Mounting Deficits

Although the reasons vary as widely as their cultures and economies, states across the nation are confronting growing deficits that are causing policymakers to cut spending immediately or plan for reductions next year. Illinois represents the worst-case scenario as its spending exceeds revenue and unpaid bills could hit a record $14 billion next summer if corrective action is not taken. Many Illinois nonprofits still await payment for services they provided on behalf of the state in the last fiscal year.

Elsewhere, New Mexico is dealing with a $450 million deficit in the current fiscal year. Kansas, which has faced major budget challenges since enacting a series of large tax cuts, saw its fourth straight month in which revenue projections fell short and spending cuts have been ordered. South Carolina’s Governor has likewise instructed state agencies to plan for a 3 percent budget cut — about $206 million — in their spending proposals for next year.

Louisiana, which took emergency steps this spring to close a current budget gap, and Virginia reportedly are facing potential deficits of $1.5 billion next year. Texas is also bracing for across-the-board cuts of 3 percent to save $1.5 billion and avoid deficits caused by increased Medicaid spending and recent tax cuts.

As nonprofits and foundations throughout the country have seen, when policymakers cut spending on programs serving human and community needs, the public turns increasingly to charitable organizations that face greater demand for services and reduced resources to provide them.

Mississippi Empanels Tax and Spending Review Commission

A new panel has been created to review tax and spending policies in Mississippi and provide recommendations to the Legislature. The bi-partisan tax policy and budget group is co-chaired by the House Speaker and Lieutenant Governor, and includes 19 other legislators and a designee of the Governor. The first meeting of the tax review panel took place on September 1, and recommendations are expected to be considered in the 2017 session.

In announcing the panel, the House Speaker explained, “On the tax side, we want to examine the entire tax structure and develop a comprehensive plan that is both fair and provides a more solid stream of revenue.” The new group will also examine spending for the state’s largest agencies, including the departments of Health, Mental Health, Human Services, and Education, among others. The public can submit comments to the legislative committee on tax policy via e-mail at mstaxpolicy@ls.ms.gov.

News IconPhilanthropy News and Op-Eds

Tax-Writing Chairmen and Ranking Members Pen Op-ed

This week, the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Tax-Writing Committees in the House and Senate penned an op-ed in the Washington Post, titled: A Better Way to Help Vulnerable Children and Families.

The piece discusses the implications of widespread opioid abuse on families—particularly, the impact of children’s success if the situation warrants separation from the family and placement into the foster care system.

The authors offer the Family First Prevention Services Act (H.R. 5456; S. 3065), as a bipartisan approach to solving this issue. Under this bill, states would receive federal funding for substance abuse treatment, mental-health services, and in-home parenting programs with the goal of limiting the number of children who are placed in foster care, but ensuring high quality standards for those who are.

The House passed this bill back in June, and the Senate is expected to take it up in the coming weeks now that Congress is back in session.

NFL Team Makes $1 million Donation to Community Foundations

Yesterday, the San Francisco 49ers CEO, Jed York, announced that his team will donate $1 million to combat racial inequality in the Bay Area through the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the San Francisco Foundation.

In this announcement, York cited a “proven track recor[d] of affecting change in the face of challenging problems” as a key reason for choosing to perform this philanthropy through these community foundations. York also cites Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s effective management of the largest community foundation in the world, and the San Francisco Foundation’s roots in the community as reasons for channeling the team’s contribution through these institutions.

At a moment when racial equity and social change are top-of-mind, this illustrates the unique role foundations can play as leaders in the community for spearheading efforts to sustain the momentum of social movements in a meaningful and lasting way.