WASHINGTON — Today, Councilmember Jermaine Reed, Kansas City, Missouri, and Judge/Executive Gary Moore, Boone County, Kentucky, testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Intergovernmental Affairs on unfunded mandates and the burden they place on communities. Reed and Moore testified on behalf of the National League of Cities (NLC) and the National Association of Counties (NACO), which represent America’s local governments. NLC and NACo are leaders in the fight against unfunded mandates, which place federal requirements on local governments without the allocation of federal funding.
“City leaders are on the front lines of almost every issue — from education to healthcare to the environment — but one of the biggest barriers to our progress is the burden of unfunded mandates,” said Councilmember Reed. “Our constituents depend on a healthy, balanced federal-local partnership to ensure that government services are affordable, reliable and high quality.”
“Counties must operate balanced budgets, and unfunded federal mandates only add additional layers of fiscal strain on counties already operating under considerable financial pressure,” said Judge/Executive Moore.
Both Reed and Moore provided examples of unfunded mandates placed on their communities and their impact on local budgets and governing. Reed spoke about the economic strain placed on Kansas City and its residents by the Clean Water Act. He emphasized the importance of the law in protecting water resources, but argued that federal funding and local flexibility for enforcement and implementation of its regulations would make the program more effective and relieve strains on local budgets nationwide.
Moore underscored the need for strengthening the intergovernmental consultation process, adding, “Federal policies and programs developed with only the impact on the federal treasury in mind put the ability of local governments to fulfill our responsibilities at risk.”
Reed and Moore also urged the committee to improve the federal-local consultation process and the way local government input is considered in rulemaking. By offering more opportunities for local elected officials to participate in the rulemaking process, they argued, agencies would give local governments more flexibility to balance their budgets, provide high-quality services, and respond to the needs of constituents.
About the National League of Cities (NLC)
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. www.nlc.org
About the National Association of Counties (NACo)
The National Association of Counties (NACo) unites America’s 3,069 county governments. Founded in 1935, NACo brings county officials together to advocate with a collective voice on national policy, exchange ideas and build new leadership skills, pursue transformational county solutions, enrich the public’s understanding of county government, and exercise exemplary leadership in public service. www.naco.org