Final 2020 Federal Gov’t Spending Bill is Kind to Volunteer Fire Service
Significant news at the Federal level today. The year-end FY 2020 spending bill that Congress released, and is expected to pass, includes the following provisions:
- $355 million each for AFG and SAFER (up from $350 million).
- A one-year reinstatement of the Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act, exempting the first $600 and any property tax benefits that a volunteer receives as a reward for their service from being subject to federal income taxation/reporting. You may remember we had a two-year law under a similar name which sun-setted over 8 years ago allowing the first $360 to be tax exempt. We traveled to Connecticut to announce the bill with Congressman Larson and worked hard to get the law passed again – sadly unsuccessfully. This is only a 1-year reinstatement but a start!
- $46.8 million for USFA (up from $44.18 million, but all of that increase is going to building improvements, so no additional funding for programs).
- $18 million for the Volunteer Fire Assistance (Rural Fire Capacity) and $82 million for State Fire Assistance (State Fire Capacity) grant programs (up from $17 million and $81 million, respectively).
- $2.5 million for the National Firefighter Registry (up from $1 million last year, but more importantly $2.5 million is full funding).
- $5 million for the SIREN grant program (SIREN was created a year ago but this is the first time it has been funded).