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Balanced budget amendment studied at FAIR meeting.

NLC should support a federal constitutional budget amendment, but, only if: the amendment has an appropriate phase-in period, prohibits unfunded federal mandates, exempts all federal trust funds and provides for appropriate enforcement provisions. This was the recommendation to NLC's Board of Directors approved by the FAIR Steering Committee on a vote of 12 to 9 during their meeting September 18-19th in Alexandria, Virginia.

Meeting under the chairmanship of Tony Capizzi, Commissioner, Dayton, Ohio the committee devoted much of the time during their meeting to joint discussions of health care reform with the NLC's Human Development Steering Committee.

Other subjects that received committee attention included: a review of federal mandates supported within the FAIR chapter of the National Municipal Policy, insurance company solvency issues, census, potential federal preemption of local tax authority, and family and medical leave.

Balanced Budget Criteria

While NLC has long had an adopted position supporting a balanced federal budget, it has had not position regarding a constitutional emendment requiring one. The FAIR Committee submitted its recommendations to assist NLC's Board of Directors in its review of options for its November session during the Congress of Cities in New Orleans.

It is widely anticipated that Congress will be required to increase the federal debt limit early in 1993 at present rates of spending. Since increase to the debt limit are "must pass bills," the federal government would be forced to shut down if it did not increase debt. The bill is a "must pass" bill virtually guaranteeing a renewed Congressional effort for a balanced budget amendment. The balanced budget amendment fell only nine votes short of passage in the House earlier this year a balanced budget constitutional amendment proposal is expected.

FAIR recommended that NLC support be conditioned on a number of concerns which have been voiced about such an amendment. Following suggestions made by the Wyoming Association of Municipalities and the Southern Municipal Conference, the committee recommended an anti-mandate clause to guard against the federal government responding to reduced spending ability by accelerating the imposition of federal mandates on cities and towns.

FAIR also recommended prohibiting the federal government from disguising its deficit by the use of surplus in trust funds like Social Security, Airports and Airways, and Transportation (gas tax). The language recommends that enforcement provisions be included to provide for what happens if Congress or the President fails to comply with the requirement and its gradual phase in, since immediate implementation would force tax increases or spending cuts equal to the amount of all current domestic discretionary spending.

Family and Medical Leave

Pursuant to a request from the Board of Directors of Women in Municipal Government (WIMG) the committee reexamined NLC's current policy which opposes federal imposition of mandatory family/medical leave requirements on cities. Following discussion the committee is recommending that NLC membership approve an amendment encouraging cities to implement family and medical leave policies locally but maintaining opposition to a federal mandate of such policies on municipal employees.


The committee heard a presentation by Mayor Pro Tem Ann Azari of fort Collins Colorado who represents NLC on the Census Bureau's "2000 Census Advisory Committee." After debating the advisability of allowing cities to conducting their own census the committee voted to recommend policy language which will advocate greater collaboration between the Census Bureau and local governments, formation of a Presidential Commission on the Census, early selection of census methodology to be used, mandatory incorporation of local government participation and a clear and impartial appeals process.

Other Issues

The committee also decided to recommend policy in opposition to recent court interpretations of federal pension law which may preclude the levy of local property taxes on property owned by private pension plans. The committee also continued it study of insurance solvency and other insurance issues and compiled a report on federal mandates supported by the FAIR policy for consideration by the Board of Directors.
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Title Annotation:Steering Committee on Finance, Administration and Intergovernmental Relations
Author:Peterson, Doug
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Sep 28, 1992
Previous Article:TB's insidious return: did we ask for it?
Next Article:Human Development discusses health care reform.

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