By Michael Wallace
Now that the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 is set to become law, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have a short window to negotiate FY 2014 funding levels for individual federal programs. The law allows for an increase of $63 billion in spending above the caps imposed by sequestration for defense and non-defense discretionary programs. Non-defense discretionary appropriations fund the majority of programs important to local governments, including housing, infrastructure, education, job training and public safety.
National League of Cities President Chris Coleman, mayor, St Paul, Minn., called on House and Senate Appropriations Committee leadership to prioritize funding for local issues that have languished during congressional gridlock.
“Cities are implementing innovative programs and initiatives and experiencing economic recovery despite challenges at the federal level,” said Coleman. “However, some issues are defined by the relative strength or weakness of the intergovernmental partnership, and in the absence of Congressional attention, our nation’s transportation infrastructure continues to deteriorate; the need for affordable housing remains largely unaddressed; anxiety persists for returning veterans and those affected by the nation’s broken immigration system; gang violence is on the rise; and the middle class continues to decline.”
Despite the increase in spending for discretionary programs, the budget deal retained the lower spending levels mandated by sequestration for mandatory programs, including the Build America Bonds program. Cities and towns that issued Build America Bonds in 2009 and 2010 will continue to be subject to cuts in federal subsidy payments on these bonds for the foreseeable future.