Presidents Budget Cuts Programs Important to Cities
The $2.9 trillion budget for fiscal year 2008 submitted by the President would balance the budget by 2012, and continue to cut taxes, by eliminating or severely reducing billions of dollars in spending for programs critical to the nation’s cities.
Funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, transit programs, Amtrak, first responders, emergency management training and the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program would be reduced or eliminated.
“Cities are obligated to provide critical public safety, housing, community development and environmental protections to our residents and businesses,” said NLC President Bart Peterson, mayor of Indianapolis. “This budget does not recognize the importance of the federal funding allocated to these programs.”
The National League of Cities will work closely with congressional leaders in the coming months to address funding levels of key domestic programs important to cities.
“We are disappointed the Administration’s budget does not provide adequate funding for programs critical to our nation’s cities,” said Peterson. “Despite overwhelming support by cities and the Congress in 2006, the Administration’s budget significantly reduces federal funds available for the critically important Community Development Block Grant program — one of the most flexible and successful programs used by cities large and small — to improve their communities.
“Given the rise in violent crime across the country, we are concerned by the Administration’s proposal to cut funding for major public safety programs,” Peterson continued. “And while we sincerely appreciate the increased funding for the Section 8 voucher housing program and the increases proposed in other areas, they are not enough to offset the losses to crime prevention and other housing and community development programs.”
The budget requests $145.2 billion for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan for fiscal year 2008 in addition to a supplemental request for $99.6 billion for the rest of this fiscal year. In order to balance the budget by 2012, spending for nonmilitary and homeland security programs would grow by 1 percent. Even in the public safety and homeland security area, funds to help cities combat violent crime, and prepare for and respond to emergencies would be cut back from current levels.
With the submission of the President’s budget, Congress will begin the 2008 budget cycle with hearings on spending requests before the Appropriations Committees in the House and action on an overall spending package by the Budget Committees. Congress is still completing action on the fiscal year 2007 spending bill. Fiscal year 2007 began on October 1, 2006, but the last Congress left with a continuing resolution that funded federal programs until February 15. The House has adopted a spending bill for the balance of the fiscal year, H.J. Res. 20, a long-term Continuing Resolution (CR), and the Senate must act before February 15.
Effects on Programs Important to Cities
Department of Housing and Urban Development
The budget proposal cuts the CDBG program by $735 million for a total of $2.97 billion, and other programs in the Community Development Fund, including brownfields, would by consolidated into CDBG, effectively eliminating them.
The proposed budget includes modest increases for a few programs, including the HOME Investment Partnership, Homeless Assistance Grants and Section 8 tenant-based voucher programs.
Department of Education
The Administration proposal cuts $1.5 billion from the funding levels of the House-passed 2007 Continuing Resolution and eliminates 44 discretionary education programs.
No Child Left Behind, which expires at the end of September, would receive $13.9 billion, an 8.6 percent increase over the fiscal 2006 spending level for expanding testing into high schools.
The budget cuts funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act by $291 million below the recently adopted 2007 CR, and Head Start would be funded at $107 million below the 2007 CR funded level.
Department of Energy
Overall, the DOE budget would receive a spending increase of less than 3 percent over enacted levels. Savings on environmental cleanup programs would finance major increases in programs to develop alternative fuels highlighted by the President in his State of the Union Address.
Department of Health and Human Services
The budget for the Department of Health and Human Services would see drastic cuts for preventive health and health services and social programs, with a sharp increase for Centers for Disease Control (CDC) infectious disaster programs.
A social services block grant would be cut by nearly $1 billion, to $1.2 billion; and community-service programs, including the $630 million Community Services Block Grant, would be eliminated due to “poor performance.”
A program providing home energy subsidies for low-income families, the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program, would be funded at $1.8 billion, a nearly $400 million cut from the levels adopted in the FY 2007 continuing resolution.
Department of Homeland Security
The White House’s $34.6 billion Homeland Security budget request for fiscal 2008 would slash state and local grant programs while increasing support for border security programs.
Funding for the department’s first-responder grant programs, including grants for states, cities and local law enforcement agencies and funding for training and exercises would be reduced by 63 percent.
A new $1 billion grant program for interoperable communications would be jointly administered by the Federal Communications Commission and DHS and would be funded through the sale of electromagnetic spectrum. Funds would then be available for cities to use for 700 MHz communications equipment.
Department of Justice
Federal assistance to state and local law enforcement would be cut by more than half in the Bush Administration’s fiscal 2008 Justice Department budget request.
The administration has proposed consolidation of several separate law enforcement grant programs — which totaled more than $2 billion in fiscal 2006 — into four grant programs that would total $1 billion in new budget authority. The original COPS program that funded local law enforcement programs, is proposed to be cut $510 million below the $542 million in funds adopted as part of the 2007 Continuing Resolution.
The budget also proposes eliminating funding for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP), which has strong state, local and Congressional support.
Department of Transportation
The FY 2008 budget requests $67.4 billion for transportation programs. The spending request would cut Amtrak funds by $518 million, fund the federal highway program at levels authorized by the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users but cut transit substantially below authorized levels. In addition, DOT proposes new aviation fees that will eventually replace airline ticket taxes when the Airport Improvement Program expires in September 2008.
DOT has requested an additional $175 million for an urban congestion initiative to fund local pilot programs such as rush hour toll measures and staggered work hours.
Environmental Protection Agency
The proposed budget would continue the Administration’s trend of slashing EPA funding, with the bulk of the proposed cuts directed toward a popular clean-water infrastructure program.
The Clean Water State Revolving Fund has been slated to be eliminated by the end of 2009. The program would receive $688 million in fiscal 2008, a drop of about $312 million from the fiscal 2007 spending package (H.J. Res 20) awaiting Senate action.
Details: For a more detailed analysis of the President’s budget, visit www.nlc.org.
Source: National League of Cities