March 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: H.R. 1 and FY 2011 Appropriations

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

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) urges Congress to consider the following recommendations and principles as it moves ahead with resolution of the FY 2011 appropriations process. States need certainty as to what federal funds to ultimately expect for the current fiscal year as states address continuing fiscal and budget challenges.

We urge you to complete final action on FY 2011 appropriations as expeditiously as possible. Reductions to state-federal discretionary programs will create current year shortfalls beyond the $111 billion in budget gaps state legislators have addressed for FY 2011. States are currently addressing no less than $82 billion in FY 2012 budget gaps. H.R. 1 as passed by the House of Representatives reduces state-federal grant funding by approximately 11 percent or $20 billion. This reduction, if approved, would primarily be applied to the last quarter of current state fiscal year FY 2011 and the first quarter of FY 2012. Most states are nearly three-quarters of the way through FY 2011 and several of them are moving toward adjournment and final action on their FY 2012 budgets. Given our time constraints and balanced budget responsibilities, we urge you to resolve quickly any differences that may exist between the House and Senate or to otherwise maintain funding for state-federal programs at their FY 2010 levels.

We firmly believe that the federal deficit should not be exported to state and local governments through spending reductions alone that do not produce commensurate savings for states. We fully expect that future cuts to state-federal programs are inevitable. However, they should be accomplished by ensuring that states obtain greater program flexibility, relief from unfunded legislative or regulatory mandates, relief from maintenance of effort requirements and related tools that will allow for more efficient and effective administration of these programs. There is no evidence in H.R. 1 of shared intergovernmental savings. On the other hand, reductions to programs that have enduring unfunded federal mandates like the No Child Left Behind Act would leave states with less funds and the same unfunded mandates.

The National Conference of State Legislatures is fully-prepared to collaborate with you to strengthen the nation’s fiscal standing. Our policies state that all discretionary spending, entitlement and revenue-related programs should be on the table. We agree that proportionate reductions in spending for state-federal programs are in order and that we should work together to produce savings that create efficiencies at all levels of government. NCSL is not seeking any one-time assistance or related help from the federal treasury. Rather we understand that federal fiscal stability is key for economic recovery and long-term growth.

Respectfully,

Senator Richard T. Moore
Massachusetts Senate
President, NCSL

Senator Stephen Morris
Senate President, Kansas
President-elect, NCSL

 

cc: Members of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives