March 30, 2011
Re: CDBG Fate Could Be Sealed by April 8
As Co-Chairs of the League’s CDBG Protection Task Force, we are counting on support from Mayors all around our Garden State, in an effort to maintain current levels of this vital federal economic development/redevelopment assistance. Continued funding has never been more crucial, than now, when cuts could further slow our sluggish recovery. Just yesterday, members of the Assembly Budget Committee in Trenton were warned that decisions in Washington could disrupt Governor Christie’s plan to balance the State budget with $10.2 billion of Federal funding. And any lessening of CDBG funding, which would directly impact local budgets, would also tend to lessen New Jersey State revenues.
With the April 8 deadline for a government shut-down (or partial shut-down or slow-down) looming, the latest reports out of Washington suggest that House Speaker John Boehner has authorized discussions with the, so-called, “Blue Dog” Democrats on a Federal Budget compromise that would call for lesser cuts, than the $61 billion included in the original House-passed spending plan. Among the many items at stake in Congress, the future of the Community Development Block grant program looms large. The original House-passed bill, H.R. 1, would have cut CDBG by 62.5 percent, as well as cutting or eliminating many other municipal programs.
The “Blue Dogs” are regarded as more conservative (or more moderate) than the majority of the members of the House Democratic caucus. Their support may be needed to keep the Federal government up and running, due to the refusal of the most conservative members of the House Republican caucus (many of whom were elected last November with strong assistance from the Tea Party movement) to support any compromise, and the insistence of the Senate’s Democratic majority on lesser cuts.
It has been reported that the White House may agree to an additional $20 billion in budget cuts (on top of the $10 billion already cut in the two most recent stopgap measures). We have not seen the reported White House package, and do not know what it will contain. Meanwhile, in the Senate, 29 Senators, including New Jersey’s Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez, have signed a formal “Dear Colleague” letter in support of CDBG funding.
We thank our Senators for their support and leadership on this. We urge you to express your gratitude directly to Senator Lautenberg and Menendez, as well.
With that said, please keep up the pressure on securing current funding ($4 billion) for the Community Development Block Grant. It is very important that members of the House and Administration continue to hear from Mayors, business leaders, community service providers, and citizens on the negative job and economic impact of any budget cut to CDBG, as well as the other proposed cuts to priorities such as the Workforce Investment Act, transportation and water infrastructure contained in HR 1.
We strongly suggest that you emphasize the critical nature of this program and the devastating effects that will result if it is reduced or eliminated. Since numerous community organizations are directly impacted by the CDBG program, it would also be beneficial if the end users of this Program could also reach out to your legislators.
Thanks for your support in this vital matter.
Very truly yours,
J. Christian Bollwage, Arthur R. Ondish,
Mayor, City of Elizabeth Mayor, Mount Arlington Borough
Past President, NJLM First Vice President, NJLM
Co-Chair, NJLM Co-Chair, NJLM
CDBG Protection Task Force CDBG Protection Task Force