Federal Grant Programs
Oklahoma received approximately $6.9 billion in federal funds in 2015. This section discusses the federal funding by functional area, beginning with the largest revenue source and continuing through the smallest. Grant amounts are for 2015, as reported by the U.S. Treasury, Bureau of the Fiscal Service. (Note that this data differs from the U.S. Census Bureau totals reported in the previous section). Direct federal spending on national programs that operate in Oklahoma, such as Medicare, Social Security, SNAP, or VA hospitals, is not included here.
Human services is by far the largest grant category both nationwide and in Oklahoma, at $4.2 billion. 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). This program is administered 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 ($148 million);
- Head Start, which funds preschool programs for low-income children ($138 million);
- Foster care and adoption assistance to help families supporting foster or adopted children ($134 million);
- Child care and development programs, which help the state fund affordable child care for low-income families ($128 million);
- Child support enforcement ($65 million), which helps ensure support for children from non-custodial parents;
- Affordable Care Act grants ($54 million), mostly for new and expanded services under this health care program;
- Low-income energy assistance ($36 million).
Transportation grants are the second largest source of federal funding for Oklahoma, at approximately $754 million. 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 $662 million, this is the second largest single grant program.
- Federal Aviation Administration grants improve both commercial and general aviation airports ($31 million).
- Federal Transit Administration grants help local governments purchase new bus and train equipment and facilities ($19 million).
Education grants are the third largest category, totaling $586 million in 2015. Major education grants in Oklahoma are:
- Title I funding that assists local school districts with high percentages of low-income students ($156 million);
- Grants to local school districts for special education and disability services ($147 million);
- Grants for vocational rehabilitation ($44 million)
- Impact Aid funding to school districts serving a large number of children from military bases and other federal facilities ($41 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 (mainly for nutrition programs) total approximately $488 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 meals. The grants are passed on to local school districts that provide the lunches ($278 million).
- Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) provides food assistance to families with young children ($89 million).
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps), provides assistance for low-income families. The State of Oklahoma receives $43 million to administer the food stamp program. In addition to grants reported here, the federal government paid $864 million in direct food stamp benefits to Oklahomans in 2015. Benefits helped 271,000 families receive an average of $266 per month for food.
National Security grants totaled $242 million in 2015. Major programs included:
- Grants to state veterans centers to provide veterans homes and fund nursing home costs of eligible veterans ($98 million).
- Grant to help the state recover from natural and other disasters ($52 million). 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.
- $34 million to help the state fund the Oklahoma National Guard.
Environment grants total $208 million. The largest of these are:
- Bureau of Indian Affairs grants for tribal highway construction ($73 million) and tribal management ($11 million)
- Grants to the state for environmental programs, 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 ($39 million).
Housing and community development grants are the seventh largest type received by Oklahoma governments ($118 million). The major programs in this category are Native American Block Grants that help tribes build or improve housing and community infrastructure ($52 million) and Community Development Block Grants that help cities and counties provide new facilities and services in low- and moderate-income areas and clear slums and blights ($40 million).
Several federal agencies provide $115 million in grants that help government promote or stabilize the state’s economy. The largest programs are designed to support unemployed people and create new employment opportunities ($40 million).
Two final categories are those for Public Safety and Science. These grants are comparatively small and supplement state and local programs to help crime victims and reduce domestic violence, as well as fund energy and other scientific research at state universities.