Cities Urge President Obama to ‘Go Local’ in 2015 State of the Union Address

Washington, D.C. - Ahead of President Barack Obama's 2015 State of the Union address to Congress, National League of Cities (NLC) President Ralph Becker, mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, issued the following statement:

"As the president prepares to deliver his State of the Union address, we urge him to push Congress to consider the federal priorities that cities and their residents need most. Cities need strong federal partners that work proactively to support the needs of our residents and communities. Last year, legislation on critical city priorities too often fell victim to partisan bickering and Beltway politics. Without Congressional action on important legislation, our nation's cities will again be left to go at it alone.

"On Tuesday, we urge the president to call on Congress to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act, long overdue legislation that cities strongly support - and need. This bill, backed by legislators from both sides of the aisle, would help Main Street businesses and bring sales taxes into the 21st century by enabling local stores and online sellers to operate under the same rules.

"This year, Congress must also pass a new, long-term federal surface transportation program that makes our infrastructure more efficient, including upgrades to older systems and the addition of new modes like light rail and bus rapid transit. Investment in local infrastructure creates jobs and boosts local economies. With adequate funding and innovative financing solutions, local leaders can train and hire thousands of workers to carry out both immediate fixes and long-term road, bridge, transit and rail projects.

"Cities also need the president to call on Congress to preserve the tax exemption for municipal bonds. Tax-exempt bonds are how local governments finance infrastructure projects. Three-quarters of all public infrastructure projects in the U.S. are built by states and localities and paid for with tax-exempt bonds. If the federal income tax exemption is eliminated or limited, states and localities will pay more to finance projects, leading to less infrastructure investment, fewer jobs and a greater tax burden on citizens."

Over the next few months, many city leaders are also giving state of the city addresses to lay out their priorities for the coming year. NLC publishes an annual State of the Cities report, which provides an analysis of trends in cities and the response of local governments based on annual state of the city addresses from mayors across the country.

The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.