By YVETTE TOWERSAP TUELL
Tribal Public Affairs
FORT HALL — The Fort Hall Business Council identified their list of Appropriations Priorities for 2021.
Every year, the Business Council identifies priorities to send to the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which address funding requests for DOI, BIA, BIE, Indian Health Service, EPA and other related agencies. This year, Congress has changed their appropriations process to include earmarks, which are specific funding for local, tribal governments and non-profits projects.
Congress has a program called “Community Project Funding” which includes discrete projects (meaning they are separate, individually defined actions) which are “shovel-ready”, and are considered “community facility” projects. Each Congressional office has their own deadlines and will be receiving and evaluating their own proposals from their state.
The Business Council identified eight projects or needs and of those eight, five projects were identified as earmarks. Those projects identified as earmark projects are (ranked in order):
1. Wellness Center (due to the need to improve the tribal community healthiness, most shovel-ready project)
2. Fire Station Replacement (Fire Station’s dilapidated condition presents danger to staff and equipment, high priority for governmental community public safety)
3. Residential substance Abuse Treatment Center (due to lack of in-patient substance abuse treatment facility)
4. Outpatient Behavioral Health Facility (due to piecemealed behavioral health services)
5. Tribal Government/Administration Building Replacement (due to building failure, which displaced numerous tribal programs, and outdated building which fails to meet building codes).
General requests include:
6. Infrastructure needs (for new or renovated facilities, need significant infrastructure for water/sewer lines, power lines, gas lines, roads, and broadband fiber optic lines)
7. Tribal Transportation Department – (requesting a change of formula to increase maintenance funding)
8. Reservation Environmental protection for Gay Mine and EMF (to provide increased funding for environmental protection for reservation resources.
The two needs which were deferred until 2022 are BIA Irrigation funding needs for replacement of key infrastructure components which has sufficient funding for 2021, and a request to increase the BIE teacher salaries for BIE Schools, including Sho-Ban High School.
There are several other major projects have already been identified as a community or governmental need and have already received federal funding, or have alternative funding sources already specified. Those projects include the replacement and construction of a separate new HRSA clinic, which already received federal funding and is in the design and planning stages. The Natural Resource Departmental building may have a separate funding source, and is also in the designing and planning stage. A combined Health Care Outpatient Facility — “one-stop-shop” for health care — will likely receive funding from the Indian Health Service, as a part of the American Rescue Plan. This list does not account for American Rescue Plan funds which allocated $20 billion for tribes.