MORE ON THE STATE BUDGET
The overarching issue in the early days of this legislative session has been the state budget. What relatively little money cities currently get from the state may be dramatically cut. (One example of the cuts, a reduction in the amount of the city share of the mixed drink alcoholic beverage tax, was discussed at a recent hearing before the Senate Finance Committee. Go to http://www.wwwebinars.com/LUVideo/LUVideo1.swf to listen to a short portion of that hearing, during which legislators question the ease with which they can “sweep” the city portion of that tax into state coffers.)
In light of the proposed cuts, city officials must keep perspective. The state’s budget deficit is so vast that it is a virtual certainty cities will face funding cuts. Far worse, however, would be legislation that requires cities to maintain current service levels in the state programs that are being cut (unfunded mandates), or that would limit the ability of cities to fund such vital services as police, fire, streets, and trash collection (artificial revenue restrictions).
The vast majority of our efforts must be to prevent these mandates and/or revenue restrictions. This doesn’t mean that city officials shouldn’t speak out against the proposed cuts; they should. But, more importantly, cities should insist that they be allowed to handle those cuts as they deem necessary and continue to provide essential services as each community sees fit.
To ensure that the legislators who prepare the state budget are aware of exactly what the proposed cuts would do to cities, the League prepared and submitted testimony in the form of letters to the Senate Finance Committee and the House Appropriations Committee. To view those letters, click on the following links: