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November 9, 2012

CONGRESS MEETS NEXT WEEK
URGE ACTION ON COMPROMISE

Dear Mayor:
Your Congressman and our U.S. Senators will be back in Washington next week when, we hope, they will pass compromise legislation to avert sequestration and avoid the “fiscal cliff.” (See our October 16 letter for details on the automatic budget cuts slated for January 2, 2013. .http://www.njslom.org/letters/2012-1016-Federal%20Budget-Control-Act.html.)

Please contact them and insist they work to help Congress adopt a bipartisan and balanced plan to reduce the deficit and avoid the harm that would result from implementing the automatic across-the-board spending cuts, also known as sequestration. Any deficit reduction plan should balance targeted spending cuts with revenue enhancements, while preserving growth-enabling investments in our communities.

Consider making these key points when you contact your Congressman and Senators Lautenberg and Menendez.

  • Congress and the Administration should stop the budget sequestration from going into effect. It is bad policy that will do more harm than good.
  • Any deficit reduction plan should balance spending cuts with revenue enhancements.
  • Spending cuts should not come from discretionary programs alone. All options should be considered.
  • The interest exemption on municipal bonds should be maintained. It is NOT a tax loophole.

 

As the economy begins to recover, municipalities continue to deal with the prolonged effects of the economic downturn. You still face struggling housing markets, slow consumer spending, and high levels of unemployment. Added to all of these, many of you will now need to address the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy. The effects of these factors  continue to drive declines in local revenues used to fund important local priorities.

In response to the downturn, local officials have made and continue to make the tough choices to balance their budgets. Many of you have cut personnel, cancelled job-creating infrastructure projects, and cut back on key services for your residents. But, even with those challenges, New Jersey Mayors continue to find innovative ways to invest in the long-term health of their communities, and our local economies are starting to show signs of a slow recovery.

Sequestration is not a responsible way to achieve deficit reduction. Automatic cuts to vital defense and non-defense programs, in January 2013, would have a devastating impact on our already fragile economic recovery. The Congressional Budget Office has warned that sequestration combined with the expiration of current tax provisions could very well lead to another recession.

 In April of this year, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press researched popular opinions of Federal, state and local governments. The Federal government was rated favorably by 33% of respondents. 52% gave state governments a favorable rating. Local government, however, received favorable ratings by 61%.

It appears that the public appreciates elected officials who make the tough, pragmatic choices that are needed to balance budgets and continue to provide vital services. Working together, often across party lines, to find solutions in difficult circumstances, you have set an example that needs to be followed in Washington next week.

Please do not delay. After next week’s sessions, Congress will leave Washington for the Thanksgiving recess. Please, as soon as possible, ask our Senators and your Congressman to help steer federal policy away from the fiscal cliff.

If you have any questions, contact Jon Moran at 609-695-3481, ext. 121 or jmoran@njslom.com 

Very truly yours,

William G. Dressel, Jr.
Executive Director

 

 

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