WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- President Bush's final budget offers little good news in terms of funding for programs important to cities and towns, according to an analysis conducted this week by the National League of Cities (NLC).
"The President's budget hits local governments hard, cutting programs needed by cities and towns to develop their communities, promote jobs, and fight crime," said NLC President Cynthia McCollum , council member of Madison, Ala. "Yet again, the Administration is attempting to reduce the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, slash programs to address housing, energy efficiency, workforce development and other critical federal grants. The cuts for workforce development assistance are especially troubling given the sudden and sharp downturn in the number of jobs in the workplace.
"We've had to fight every single year for CDBG -- one of the most successful programs used by cities of all sizes -- and we will have to do it again. We're also concerned about the cuts to homeland security and other public safety programs. Finally, at a time when we need to find ways to increase energy efficiency and reduce the congestion choking our metropolitan areas, the proposed cuts to Amtrak and transit funding makes no sense.
"More importantly, however, is the effect these cuts will have on our local budgets, which are facing huge pressures because of the fallout from the housing crisis. Because cuts at the federal level too often translate directly into local government - and the taxpayers - scrambling to pick up the tab, our choices are few - cut needed services or raise revenues.
"These are the kinds of programs that help keep America strong and we will work hard with Congress to restore the funding," McCollum said, vowing to work closely with Congressional leaders in the coming months. "We need to bring reality into this budget process and have the federal government as a full partner in our efforts to provide for our citizens on a daily basis," she said.
Key findings by NLC include:
Crime Prevention, Public Safety and Homeland Security
-- Funds for crime prevention programs that support local law enforcement efforts would be slashed by 61 percent or
-- Funds for grants for security, law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical teams would be cut by almost half or
Economic Development and Housing
-- Funding for the Community Development Block Grant program (CDBG) would be cut by approximately
-- Funds would increase for several affordable housing programs, including the HOME Investment Partnership Program by
-- Funds would increase substantially for the Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance program, adding
-- Funds for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy were cut by 27 percent to
Environmental Protection Agency
-- The Clean Water State Revolving Fund would receive
Health and Human Services Programs
-- Funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which has helped millions of poor and elderly Americans pay for heating or cooling their homes, would be reduced by 23 percent from
-- Funding for the Social Services Block Grant and the Community Services Block Grant program would be zeroed out. Cities and towns that use these funds to provide welfare and other low income individuals with child care or basic medical services would have to eliminate the services offered or find alternative funding sources.
-- Funding for pandemic flu preparedness would increase significantly from about
Workforce Development Programs
-- Funds are reduced by
NLC will hold its Congressional City Conference in Washington, DC , March 9 - 12, which will include high-level meetings with Members of Congress and the Administration, and a push for more discussion on issues of importance to cities in the ongoing presidential campaign. For media registration information, go to http://www.nlc.org/pressroom/conferencepresspage.aspx.
SOURCE National League of Cities