Elections bring conservative shift in Congress, states
As most polls and pundits had predicted, the Republican party made major gains in the most recent mid-term elections, both in Congress and in state legislatures. Although most conservative candidates ran on a platform of heavy cuts to government spending, officials with the Washington-based U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) and the National Conference of State Legislatures (USCL) say it is hard to predict how the new legislative bodies will address programs that send funds to local governments.
USCM CEO and Executive Director Tom Cochran says his primary aim is to preserve funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) programs. He also is concerned about how the new legislators will view funding for the upcoming transportation bill.
Cochran says he is relatively certain that USCM and other local government associations can protect at least the CDBG, which enjoys some bipartisan support, and possibly the EECBG. What may happen to the transportation bill is a little harder to predict, he says, but even that should have some support on both sides of the aisle. “I assume that [both political parties] are just as concerned as mayors are about traffic,” he says.
Republicans also took control of state legislatures from Democrats in at least 13 states, according to NCSL. Tim Story, an NCSL election analyst, says there may be less money to go around, considering many Republican candidates ran against creating any new taxes, and state revenues continue to be flat. “This era of looking for even deeper cuts and the lack of any increased spending is going to continue, because all the easy things are long gone,” he says.