As previously reported by MACo, discussions on the federal budgetary deficit are increasingly focusing on shifting costs to state and local governments. On August 31, the National Association of Counties (NACo) sent a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction arguing on behalf of the nation’s counties that the federal deficit cannot be solved by only cutting domestic, non-military discretionary programs. NACo President Lenny Eliason stressed that county governments serve as partners with the states and the federal government in providing central programs and services to the public. Eliason states:
As various budget scenarios are analyzed, all expenditures should be considered, including defense, foreign aid and federal entitlement reform, along with other domestic spending. Additionally, revenue enhancements should not be left “off the table”. Although reducing discretionary domestic spending is part of the answer, it cannot — and should not — be the only sector that is considered. If there is to be pain it must be shared. We urge committee members not to solely rely on one area in reducing our debt to the exclusion of others. It is a fact that non-military discretionary programs make up only about 12 percent, or approximately $480 billion, of the $3.6 trillion annual federal budget. We believe that last month’s debt ceiling agreement relies too heavily on reductions to domestic spending, while giving insufficient consideration to increasing government revenues and reducing spending in other areas. The reductions contained in the debt ceiling agreement will endanger the provision of essential services to our citizens over the next ten years. The Committee should ensure that comprehensive budget deficit reductions are just that comprehensive.
The select committee is slated to recommend a strategic plan for an estimated $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction by November 23. The recommendations will then be put to a vote before Congress a month later on December 23.