Mayors and County Officials Stunned by Fiscal Cliff Debate

The elected leadership of several local government organizations has written a call to action for our federal leaders in Washington. The elected officials are calling on Congress and the White House to make smart cuts and continue to invest in America's cities and counties to drive growth and create jobs.

The officials are:

Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia, Pa., United States Conference of Mayors President
Mayor Marie Lopez Rogers, Avondale, Ariz., National League of Cities President
Commissioner Chris Rodgers, Douglas County, Neb., National Association of Counties President

Excerpts are below and the full text may be found at:

"Local elected officials have been at turns appalled, stunned, and dismayed, at what is passing for "serious debate and negotiation" among our federal counterparts charged with pulling the nation back from the fiscal cliff. With few resources at hand to navigate the Great Recession, city and county leaders have compromised and found common ground to right size local government while maintaining key investments in the future of our communities."

"Americans are still reeling from a slow recovery and the top focus must be on job creation. Cities and counties are working with businesses and the private sector to forge economic partnerships locally. But it is not enough. A more aggressive answer to jobs creation is needed."

"In our view, Congress must do the following things:

  1. Congress must take immediate action to steer America away from the looming fiscal cliff, to make sure that we do not face another credit downgrade. Such clarity on the federal budget also offers greater certainty and encouragement to private investment, which, in turn, improves productivity, expands opportunity for innovation, and leads to greater economic growth.

  2. As part of the deficit package, Congress must ensure that necessary federal investments are made in metro infrastructure, energy independence, research, education and public safety so that economic growth can continue and further strengthen America's global competitiveness and future fiscal health.

  3. Congress must devise a balanced approach to cutting the deficit, combining more rational spending cuts with additional revenues from sources like tax code reform. Every bi-partisan commission that has studied the deficit has concluded that additional revenues must be part of the solution.

  4. Key economic development tools must be continued such as Community Development Block Grants, workforce training, water modernization and the tax exemption for municipal bonds, which support state and local financing of infrastructure projects.

  5. Congress should pass the bi-partisan Marketplace Fairness Act, which would allow for the collection of sales taxes on internet commerce - which could provide states and cities with an estimated $23 billion annually.

  6. Congress should protect Medicaid which states and counties help finance in partnership with the federal government to provide health care for more than 60 million low income children, families, frail elders and blind and disabled Americans. Cuts or caps to the federal contribution are not "entitlement reform," but only shifts health care costs to state and local taxpayers."

"On their behalf, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities and the National Association of Counties - all bipartisan organizations representing America's local communities -- have each sent letters to Congressional leaders urging a balanced approach to deficit reduction and are today calling on Congress and the White House to make smart cuts and continue to invest in America's cities and counties to drive growth and create jobs."