August 1, 2011

 

The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker of the House
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

 

The Honorable Harry Reid
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

 

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

 

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Minority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510


RE: Deficit Reduction and Debt Ceiling Agreement

 

Dear Speaker Boehner, Representative Pelosi, Senator Reid and Senator McConnell:

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) applauds your efforts to achieve consensus on a combined bipartisan deficit reduction and debt ceiling increase plan. Based on announced outlines, the agreement would target discretionary spending for initial spending reductions and put all discretionary, mandatory, entitlement and revenue-related issues on the table in a prospective joint committee effort. With everything open for debate, the likelihood of the deficit being exported to states through burdensome unfunded mandates or cost shifts could potentially be diminished.

Your agreement hopefully heads off likely credit downgrades and increased borrowing costs that states might have confronted resulting from a federal default. This will allow states to pursue capital and related projects needed to maintain our investment in a variety of public services such as schools, infrastructure and public health.

Exemptions from potential sequestration for Medicaid and programs serving our most vulnerable populations are most appreciated. Given current and anticipated fiscal pressures states will have to address, states are not well-positioned to handle significant reductions in programs serving low-income individuals and families.

Given our experience with balancing budgets, we understand the difficulty of forging agreements among competing priorities. We further understand that these agreements need to be comprehensive for the sake of fiscal responsibility and economic growth. The NCSL takes this opportunity to reiterate our position that reducing the federal deficit should include opportunities for greater flexibility among states in administering federal programs and possible relaxation of maintenance of effort requirements. In particular, we urge that the new joint committee eliminate unfunded federal mandates, respect state authority, and avoid federal pre-emption of state resources. We will work closely with you as this consensus agreement moves forward and with the joint committee once it is formed.

 

Respectfully,

 

Senator Richard T. Moore
Massachusetts Senate
President, NCSL

Senator Stephen R. Morris
President of the Senate, Kansas
President-Elect, NCSL

 

 

Cc: Honorable Barack Obama, President of the United States