NCSL Letter Opposing Permanent Elimination of Social Service Block Grant (SSBG)
April 16, 2012
The Honorable David Camp The Honorable Sander Levin
Chair, House Ways & Means Committee Ranking Member, House Ways & Means Committee
Washington, DC Washington, DC
Dear Chairman Camp and Ranking Member Levin:
On behalf of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), we write in opposition to the permanent elimination of the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG); state share your concern about the size of the federal deficit. However, NCSL strongly believes cutting or eliminating the SSB is a significant $1.7 billion cost-shift to states.
SSBG was created in 1981 in the Omnibus Reconciliation Act (P.L.97-35) established by President Ronald Reagan and is often considered the “original” block grant. The SSBG gives states flexibility to provide a critical range of services that serve poor families, protect children and the elderly from abuse and neglect, and to keep the elderly and the disabled in their own homes rather than in institutions. It is a flexible source of funding that allows states to address the needs of vulnerable populations and respond to local concerns. State legislators see support of the SSBG as a strong signal of Congressional commitment to devolution and to block grants.
Eliminating SSBG would shift the costs of these services to states. State legislators would not necessarily be able to backfill programs funded by SSBG due to four years of back to back reductions in their own state budgets. Between FY2008-FY2013, it is estimated that states have closed a $527.7 billion budget gap. Moreover, state revenues remain at pre-recession levels.
We urge you to keep your commitment to the SSBG and bolster vital services that make a difference to America’s children, elderly, and disabled. If you have any questions regarding NCSL’s concerns about SSBG, please do not hesitate to contact Sheri Steisel or Emily Wengrovius by emailing Fedhumserv-Info@ncsl.org or by calling (202)624-5400.
The Honorable Tom Hansen The Honorable Barbara W. Ballard
South Dakota Senate Kansas House of Representatives
Chair NCSL Human Services & Welfare Committee Chair NCSL Human Services & Welfare Committee