November 18, 2010

The Honorable Erskine Bowles, Co-Chair
The Honorable Alan Simpson, Co-Chair
The President’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform
1650 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20501

Dear Mr. Bowles and Senator Simpson: 

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) appreciates your leadership and political will in offering your ‘CoChairs’ Proposal,’ a blueprint for improving the nation’s fiscal situation and achieving long-term fiscal sustainability.

Because state legislators must balance their operating budgets, we understand the difficulties in making tough fiscal decisions.  Given the economic climate for states, we will be vigilant of the potential for the federal government to transfer spending responsibilities to states that would undermine our ability to deliver benefits and services to our constituents.  Additionally, we understand that achieving long-term fiscal sustainability will require action among mandatory and entitlement programs and also on the domestic discretionary side of the federal budget which includes numerous state-federal initiatives. There are also a multitude of linkages between federal and state tax and revenue policy that bear serious attention because of our mutual reliance on these resources to carry out constitutional responsibilities. It’s our intention for NCSL to be a constructive voice in addressing deficit reduction options that require intergovernmental collaboration.

As you may know, NCSL established a Deficit Reduction Task Force at our Legislative Summit this past July.  The task force will focus on making federal policymakers, such as the National Commission on Fiscal Reform and Responsibility, aware of potential implications federal deficit reduction policy may have on states and to reach federal budget solutions that will not undermine or preempt state authority.  As Co-Chairs of the NCSL Task Force, we intend to interact with both of you after the Commission offers final recommendations in December and throughout the upcoming year as lawmakers throughout the country continue the discussion and take action on achieving fiscal sustainability.

We look forward to working with both of you and the President’s commission on this daunting task.  If you have any questions on NCSL policy regarding deficit reduction, please contact Michael Bird (202-624-8686, or Jeff Hurley (202-624-7753, in NCSL’s Washington, D.C. office. 

Rosie Berger
Member, Wyoming House of Representatives
Co-Chair, NCSL Deficit  Reduction Task Force 

Terie Norelli
Member, New Hampshire House of Representatives
Co-Chair, NCSL Deficit Reduction Task Force