2017 CDFI Institute Wrap-Up and Appropriations Update

Last week, the 23rd Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Institute was held in our nation’s capital. The event, hosted by the CDFI Coalition, drew nearly 200 attendees, including community development stakeholders from around the nation. Congressman French Hill (R-AR), CDFI Fund Director Annie Donovan, Senior Treasury Department staff and panels of CDFI experts participated in the Institute.

CDFI Fund Director Annie Donovan gave remarks at the opening breakfast, followed by an informative panel featuring top staff from the Fund. Senior staff from other federal agencies that provide resources for CDFIs also presented at the conference, sharing information on their programs and current insights on their agencies’ work in the year ahead. Later at lunch, attendees heard from legislative and policy experts on the new Administration and Congress, including Bob Rapoza, Bill Hoagland of Bipartisan Policy Center, David Reich of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, and Nick Wyatt, Majority staff for the Senate Finance Committee.

The Coalition’s Annual Business Meeting was also held in conjunction with the Institute. Five new Board Members were elected. The new members welcomed include Marten Jenkins of Natural Capital Investment Fund (at-large seat), Matt Josephs of LISC (at-large seat), Teresa Montoya of GECU Credit Union (credit union seat), Ceyl Prinster of Colorado Enterprise Fund (micro loan fund seat), and Saurabh Narain of National Community Investment Fund (intermediary seat).

In all the Coalition held nine great panels, ranging from presentations from several federal agencies providing examples of resources for CDFIs, panels on the USDA Community Facilities program, Capitalization of CDFIs, CDFIs and Infrastructure Financing, The Food Economy and Farm Bill–Bridging the Rural/Urban Divide, When CDFIs Reflect the Communities They Serve and Private Sector Sources of Capital. Presentations from the Institute and the agenda can be found on the events page.

The Coalition also distributed a press release on the press reports that came out on the first day of the Institute, which indicated President Trump’s budget would all, but eliminate the CDFI Fund programs’ funding. In meetings on the Hill that afternoon, CDFIs stressed the importance of the Fund and how CDFIs leverage $12 in private-sector capital for every dollar in CDFI Fund Financial Assistance.  In other words, the $233.5 million in annual appropriations for the Fund results in at least $2 billion in financial products and services that are targeted to low-income communities and people. New data from the Fund was also shared that showed CDFIs generated $3.6 billion in loans and investments in communities in 2016 alone.

More details on the appropriations and budget landscape is in sections below. Photos from the event are also posted on the CDFI Coalition’s Facebook page. It was an informative two days and we hope you will plan to join us next year.

Fiscal Year 2017 Continuing Resolution

The Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Continuing Resolution (CR) expires on April 28 and it now appears that Congress will not act until it expires.  The CR continues almost all federal programs at the FY 2016 rate.

The great unknown is the position of the Trump Administration on CR and whether the White House will make a request for funding in the CR. The FY 2017 House Financial Services/General Government Bill provided $250 million for the Fund, the highest appropriation ever.  The Senate bill provided $233.5 million, which is a freeze at the FY 2016 rate.

The Coalition is supporting the House level for both FY 2017 and FY 2018.

Fiscal Year 2018 Process Begins to Unfold

During the Institute, press reports surfaced on the outlines of the FY2018 Trump Administration budget request. The Administration is proposing to reduce domestic discretionary spending by $54 billion and shift those funds to defense.

Apparently one of the causalities of that short is the CDFI Fund.  While nothing is confirmed, we understand that the Administration will propose eliminating all of Fund’s grant money with a small amount requested for administration of the New Markets Tax Credit, Capital Magnet Fund and the Bond Guarantee program. As we have reported previously, the Heritage Foundation, which played major role in the transition effort, had recommended elimination of the Fund.

The CDFI Coalition and other members have weighed-in with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin in support of the CDFI Fund.  While this news is disappointing, it is only the beginning of the process and there could be changes when the final budget is released—and certainly when Congress takes up the FY 18 spending bill.

The release of a so-called “skinny budget” is scheduled for March 16, with a detailed presentation scheduled for May.

What You Can Do

The House Appropriations Committee has launched the FY 2018 appropriations process.  Last week the Committee notified House Members requests will be due in the next few weeks:  see subcommittee deadlines here. The due date for the Financial Services/General Government Appropriations Bill is March 29.  Members typically have internal offices deadlines in advance of the submission date to the Committee, so it is important to engage with your Representative now.

Most Representatives require any individual or organization making appropriations request to complete a form that provides detailed information on the amount, justification and nature of the program request, and the appropriation that bill included for the program.  Attached please find a template with that information to complete the form.

If you are unsure about the best staff person to contact in your Representatives’ office, the Coalition can help. Contact Sam Rapoza (sam@rapoza.org) for assistance.

Attached please find a link to a letter to Congress in support of appropriations for the CDFI Fund.

Please sign it!  The closing date is March 20th.