Federal Grant Programs
Oklahoma received approximately $7.8 billion in federal funds in 2009. This section discusses the federal funding by functional area, beginning with the largest revenue source and continuing through the smallest. Grant amounts are for 2009, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of the Census.
Human services is by far the largest grant category both nationwide and in Oklahoma. These grants are designed to ensure that Americans have access to health and nutrition needs and a large range of services meeting special needs of parts of the population. Most of these grants go to state agencies, which then distribute funding to eligible Oklahomans or to those who provide service to them. The Medicaid health program for low-income populations is the largest grant ($3.1 billion). Medicaid funding was significantly higher in 2009-11 because the stimulus increased the federal share of costs. This program is operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. Most of the money goes to doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care providers. The other large human services grants are:
- Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, which funds programs for qualifying low-income families ($193 million);
- Headstart, which funds preschool programs for low-income children ($140 million);
- Child care and development programs, which help the state fund affordable child care for low-income families ($102 million);
- Foster care and adoption assistance to help families supporting foster or adopted children ($71 million); and
- Low-income energy assistance ($45 million).
Transportation grants are the second largest source of federal funding for Oklahoma, at approximately $1.0 billion. These grants were considerably higher in 2009-11 due to stimulus increases in highway and transit funding. There are three major transportation grant programs.
- Spending from the Highway Trust Fund, which collects the federal gas tax, provides funding to build and maintain highways, with small amounts used for public transit, and facilities for bicycles and pedestrians. The Oklahoma Department of Transportation receives the funding and distributes it among state programs and then among local governments. At $798 million, this is the second largest single grant program.
- Federal Aviation Administration grants improve both commercial and general aviation airports ($48 million).
- Federal Transit Administration grants help local governments purchase new bus and train equipment and facilities ($39 million).
Education grants are the third largest category, totaling $706 million in 2009. Major education grants in Oklahoma are:
- Title I funding that assists local school districts with high percentages of low-income students ($256 million);
- Grants to local school districts for special education and disability services ($207 million); and
- Impact Aid funding to school districts serving a large number of children from military bases and other federal facilities ($46 million).
There are a number of smaller grants to serve minority children, improve vocational education and literacy, and for various higher education programs.
Agriculture grants total approximately $480 million and offer a number of programs to improve farming and increase prices of their production. While many programs provide funding directly to farmers, most state and local grants provide money to purchase food and thus increase demand and prices. There are three major agriculture grants.
- Child nutrition programs provide both cash and food to the state for school lunches. The grants are passed on to local school districts that provide the lunches ($241 million).
- Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides food assistance to families with young children ($95 million).
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), a 100-percent federally funded program, provides assistance for low-income families. The State of Oklahoma receives $59 million to administer the food stamp program. The federal government paid $666 million in direct food stamp benefits to Oklahomans in 2009. The stimulus bill increased the amount of benefits under this program for two years, while Oklahoma SNAP caseloads rose consistently through 2008 and 2009.
Housing and community development grants are the fifth largest type received by Oklahoma governments. There are three major programs in this category.
- Low-income housing programs subsidize housing for individuals meeting the income guidelines. In Oklahoma, these grants are administered mainly by local housing authorities ($200million).
- Native American Block Grants help tribes build or improve housing and community infrastructure ($67 million).
- Community Development Block Grants help cities and counties provide new facilities and services in low- and moderate-income areas and clear slums and blights ($38 million).
Energy and environment grants total $206 million. The largest of these are:
- Grants to the state for environmental programsm which are used to regulate public and private activities that create air, water, and ground pollution and to provide financial assistance for local government water and sewer projects ($79 million); and
- Bureau of Indian Affairs grants for tribal management ($78 million).
Homeland security grants represent just two percent of total grants to Oklahoma. The vast majority of this funding, $89 million in 2009, pays the federal share of planning for and recovering from natural and other disasters. The amount we receive each year depends on the nature of that year’s emergencies. Most of this money goes to local governments to repay costs of responding to and recovering from disasters.
Commerce and related grants are designed to help government promote or stabilize the local economy. The largest programs are designed to support unemployed people and create new employment opportunities. These programs, unemployment insurance and Workforce Investment Act, are managed by state and local agencies and total $60million. Both programs had large increases from 2009-10 due to stimulus funding.
Justice grants are comparatively small, approximately $44 million in 2009. These grants supplement state and local efforts in community policing, corrections, assisting crime victims, and reducing violence against women.
Defense and veterans grants totalling $32 million in 2009 help the state provide veterans homes and fund nursing home costs of eligible veterans.