January 17, 2012

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C.  20500



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

RE: FY 2013 Budget Proposal and Budget Resolution

Dear Mr. President, Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Reid: 

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) recognizes the need for the federal government to reduce its annual deficits and manage its long-term debt. While the savings achieved in the Budget Control Act help to temporarily impede the country’s rising debt, a broader effort is needed to assure America’s fiscal well-being. As the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform concluded in its Moment of Truth report: “The problem is real. The solution will be painful. There is no easy way out. Everything must be on the table. And Washington must lead.” We concur wholeheartedly and offer our bipartisan partnership and cooperation in developing and implementing long-term fiscal solutions.

We strongly urge you, President Obama, to include in your FY 2013 proposed federal budget a comprehensive, aggressive and bold plan to address America’s long-term fiscal gap. We respectfully suggest that your plan last year that would have reduced the deficit by $4 trillion is a starting point.

We likewise urge Congressional leadership to pass a budget resolution that adheres to the “go big” principle. Putting America on a sustainable fiscal path is crucial. Many members of Congress have reached that conclusion in their own proposals, letters and statements. The private sector has also voiced similar sentiments. NCSL believes that the White House and Congress need to examine all possible avenues for deficit reduction, including discretionary spending, entitlement reform and revenue-related options. Both the budget proposal and budget resolution should include an explanation of the potential intergovernmental and fiscal federalism implications of any recommended actions.

As models to achieve comprehensive deficit reduction, we recommend you consider several plans that have garnered widespread support. These proposals - the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility’s Moment of Truth report and the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Restoring America’s Future report - offer frameworks to put the nation’s debt on a downward trajectory. There are numerous others we have reviewed, including those offered by various members of Congress, that raise key, unavoidable issues.

NCSL understands the difficulties the federal government faces in its efforts to attain fiscal responsibility. We also understand that funding targeted for state and local governments has been and will continue to be reduced.  However, our message remains the same – states will struggle if a disproportionate and excessive burden is transferred to us. A list of our priorities, including not imposing new unfunded federal mandates, providing relief from maintenance of effort requirements, and funding for several invaluable infrastructure programs, is attached. We welcome an opportunity to discuss this fiscal challenge with each of you in the near future.

For additional information, please contact Michael Bird (202-624-8686; michael.bird@ncsl.org) and Jeff Hurley (202-624-7753; jeff.hurley@ncsl.org). Thank you for consideration of this request.



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

Terie Norelli
House Democratic Leader, New Hampshire
President-Elect, NCSL
Co-Chair, NCSL Deficit Reduction Task Force

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




Cc: Jack Lew, Director of the Office of Management and Budget

      Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S.