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Investing in Communities Coalition Members Seek Level Funding of Key Programs from Congress.

Several organizations joined the National League of Cities in voicing support to Congress for level funding of key federal programs vital to local public safety and economic development initiatives, as part of the fiscal year 2002 appropriations process.

Convened by NLC President Dennis W. Archer, mayor of Detroit, the Investing In Communities Coalition rallied support within the Senate Appropriations Committee for the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant, Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, Economic Development Administration, Legal Services Corporation, Weed and Seed community drug prevention grants, and other programs funded under appropriations for the Departments of Commerce, Justice and State.

"These programs are essential to the safety of America's families and communities," Coalition members stated in a letter to Senator Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.), chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary. "In a coordinated effort to ensure that federal assistance for public safety and crime prevention is maintained, we urge you to support the (fiscal year) 2001 funding levels in next year's appropriations for grant programs essential to local and state agencies."

Just days after receiving the coalition's letter, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a measure (S. 1215) that would maintain funding for some of the local and state programs outlined by coalition members, including the American Water Works Association; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; International Council of Shopping Centers; International Economic Development Council; International Personnel Management Association; Local Initiative Support Corporation; National Association of Regional Councils; National Community Development Association; National Congress for Community and Economic Development; and the National Youth Employment Council.

Under the Senate appropriations bill, the Weed and Seed drug prevention program would be funded at $58.9 million (almost a $10 million increase from FY 2001). Funding for the COPS program would be reduced from $1.037 billion to $1.013 billion in next year's budget. However, the committee approved the retention of the COPS Universal Hiring Program, which would have been eliminated under the President's budget request last March.

The Local Law Enforcement Block Grant would face a drastic reduction of more than $100 million, with next year's finding at $400 million. The Economic Development Administration's budget would be reduced to $371.5 million, instead of the $440 million requested by the Coalition. Also, the Legal Services Corporation would be funded at a comparable level of $329.3 million during the next fiscal year. In other areas, the Safe Schools Initiative would be funded at $234.5 million, an increase of almost $7 million; and $25.4 million would fund grants to police departments for bullet proof vests.

The full Senate is expected to consider the Commerce-Justice-State appropriations bill before Congress' August recess. NLC and the Investing In Communities Coalition will continue advocacy efforts for level funding of public safety and economic development programs as the House and Senate conferees prepare to reconcile their appropriations bills for Commerce-Justice-State (S. 1215 and H.R. 2500).
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Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 30, 2001
Words:488
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