SJR 223

Standing Joint Subcommittee on Block Grants

August 26, 1998, Richmond

Since 1982, a joint legislative subcommittee on block grants has held an annual public hearing on any federal block grants, as required by the federal government. In 1993, SJR 223 was passed to establish the Standing Joint Subcommittee on Block Grants for so long as federal law requires a state legislative public hearing on any block grant. At this time, only the Community Services Block Grant requires legislative involvement. Federal law requires the submission of a plan detailing the required assurances and the proposed uses and distribution of the funds and documenting the legislative public hearing.

Community Services Block Grant

The Community Services Block Grant provides support for self-help programs operated by various community action agencies throughout the Commonwealth. Designed to assist low-income people in becoming self-sufficient, the Community Services Block Grant serves as core funding for activities such as: Some other block grant activities are health services, elderly services, nutrition, energy conservation, ex-offender services, economic and community development, and community organization. The current grant continues the development of the Results-Oriented Management and Accountability (ROMA), for which Virginia, as one of only six states to receive a grant for this development, is recognized as a national model. The community action agencies (CAAs) also will continue, as part of the ROMA efforts, implementation of outcome measures and are being encouraged to be involved in welfare reform.

Twenty-six local CAAs and three statewide community action organizations are funded through this grant and the supplementary state appropriations. Each of these agencies has a board of directors representing local elected officials, low-income people, and the community at large. Of the $7,845,958 for fiscal year 1999, 90 percent of the funds are passed through to the local CAAs; five percent of the funds are distributed to the statewide CAAs; and five percent of the funds are used for state administration of the grant. Although the local and statewide CAAs depend on the federal and state funds for core funding, these agencies receive funding from many sources.

Public Hearing

During the public hearing, oral testimony was received from 11 individuals. Each of these individuals relayed their personal stories and how a specific community action agency or organization had helped them put their lives back together.

Upon the conclusion of the public hearing, the Standing Joint Subcommittee voted, upon motion, to approve the current application for the Community Services Block Grant.

The Honorable Charles J. Cogan, Chairman
Legislative Services contact: Norma E. Szakal